How does the traffic light system work? What are the new travel rules in Ireland?

Map dated 26 November 2020

How does the new traffic light system work? 

The EU’s ‘traffic light’ system for travel identifies regions as ‘red’, ‘orange’, ‘green’ or ‘grey’ based on weekly Covid incidence maps compiled by the European Centre of Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

  • Green regions are based on a 14-day notification rate lower than 25 cases per 100,000 and a test positivity rate below 4%.
  • Orange regions are based on a 14-day notification rate lower than 50 cases per 100,000 and a test positivity rate of 4% or more, or, if the notification rate ranges from 25 to 150 but the test positivity rate is below 4%.
  • Red regions are based on a 14-day notification rate of 50 cases per 100,000 or higher and a test positivity rate of 4% or more, or, if the notification rate is more than 150 and a test positivity rate below 4%.
  • Grey regions are where there is not sufficient information is available or if the testing rate is 300 or less.

What does that mean for travellers? 

There will be no restrictions on travellers coming from ‘green’ regions. In relation to travellers coming from ‘orange’, ‘red’ or ‘grey’ areas, each country can decide whether they introduce certain restrictions, such as quarantine or tests. This means that some countries will not apply any travel restrictions within the EU, while others will apply certain measures to travellers coming from ‘orange’, ‘red’ or ‘grey’ areas. Further information is available from Government travel advice for each Country/region.

How often will this map be reviewed?

These maps are published by the ECDC every Thursday. For further information, click Re-open EU and Covid19 travel measures.

What happens if I travel to Spain? 

From 23rd Nov 2020, travellers from high risk countries (‘red’ or ‘grey’ countries) must present a Negative PCR certificate to enter Spain, carried out 72 hours before arrival. Travellers from ‘orange’ or ‘green’ countries will avoid this. Click here for details of the latest list of High Risk Countries. These lists will be reviewed every 15 days and effective 7 days after publication.

What happens when I return to Ireland?

People travelling to Ireland from ‘red’ regions will no longer have to restrict their movements for 14 days once they receive a negative PCR Covid-19 test result a minimum of five days after arrival. Passengers arriving from ‘orange’ countries no longer have to restrict their movements for 14 days if they carry proof of a negative Covid-19 PCR test result gained within the previous three days before arrival. There are no restrictions travelling from ‘green’ countries.

Click here for details from the Department of Foreign Affairs and here for advice from the Department of the Taoiseach.

Source: Council of the European Union, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of the Taoiseach, Ministerio de Sanidad Consumo y Bienestar Social

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