travel restrictions

Travel Tips

What Is The EU Traffic Light System for Travel – My Step By Step Guide

airport travelling with masks

Confused by the new EU traffic light system for travel? My handy guide has all the categories, restrictions and quarantine rules.

On Sunday 8th November, the Irish Government implemented the new EU traffic light system for travel, and following a few amendments, it appears we finally have a workable system in place – well almost!

Eu traffic light system map for travel
The EU traffic light system approach provides for regions across the EU to be categorised as green, orange, red or grey, on the basis of the risk levels associated with COVID-19. A combined indicator map will be published each week by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, (ECDC), based on the 14-day cumulative notification rate, testing rate and testing positivity rates.
 

 

 
The ECDC traffic light system will be updated every Thursday, and the changes applied will come into effect for travel into Ireland from the following Monday. The proposed measures for arrivals from orange, red and green regions, once implemented, will be reviewed fortnightly. It is important to note not all countries are adopting the same timelines  – see more below.

how does the new EU traffic light system for travel work

What’s new in the EU traffic-light system for travel?

The categorisation of ‘regions’ instead of ‘countries’ is a significant one for Ireland, as popular hot spots such as the Canary Islands has seen significantly lower incidence rates than the rest of Spain.
 

 

 
Arrivals from Great Britain are subject to the same traffic light system, and arrivals from other countries not listed in the ECDC report, including USA and Canada, will be treated on the same basis as arrivals from Red / Grey regions, including exemptions from advice to restrict movements.

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Sarah Slattery – Travel Expert (@the_travel_expert) on

The other significant change is in relation to testing. It is possible to reduce quarantine times by obtaining pre or post departure tests, which must be arranged and paid for privately. However, only PCR tests will be acceptable – not the more cost effective antigen tests. See more on this below.
 

 

Countries adopt different approaches within the EU traffic light system

mums weekend away

However, it is important to put this new EU traffic-light system into perspective. At present (19th November) Greenland is the only region that is classified as ‘Green’, while Ireland, the Canary Islands, Finland, Norway and parts of Greece are considered ‘Orange’. Currently many countries require visitors from high risk (red/grey) regions to provide proof of a negative PCR test to be shown on arrival. This must be taken within 72 hours of departure. However, Ireland has a different system in place (see below).
 

 

 
It is also vital that you check the requirements for the country you are travelling to in advance of travel. While Ireland updates its list of countries on the traffic light system every Monday, (taken from the ECDC Map published the previous Thursday), many other countries adopt different methods.

For instance, Spain will update its list every 15 days, giving tourists a window of certainty to make travel bookings, so that the countries will not change classification in two weeks. The first list published by the Spanish health authorities will be on the 23rd of November (and every second week after that) and this list will come in to effect 7 days later.
 

 

 

What does this mean for Irish people travelling to Spain and The Canary Islands?

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Sarah Slattery – Travel Expert (@the_travel_expert)


If you are travelling to Spain, including the Canary Islands, between the 23rd and 30th of November, you will need to produce confirmation of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival .  

If you are travelling to Spain, including the Canary Islands between the 30th November and midnight 13th December,  you are NOT required to provide a negative PCR test (as Ireland is considered an Orange region). If Ireland remains orange/amber on the 3rd December, a negative PCR will not be required for arrivals up to the 28th of December.
 

 

 
However, The Canary Islands has a separate regulation in place. ALL visitors who are staying in tourist accommodation must have an antigen test when they arrive. This test can be arranged on arrival and costs €25, the results are usually provided with 30 minutes.
 

 

 
There is also confusion over the governments current travel advice. The current public health advice is that there should be no non-essential international travel, however the Department of Foreign Affairs website states:

“Our current advice for travel to these countries (meaning those included in the ECDC map) is ‘exercise a high degree of caution’. Our general advice for any other overseas travel remains ‘avoid non-essential travel’ or in some cases, ‘do not travel’ ”
 

 

 
While the outlook for international travel still remains bleak in the short term, hopefully by adopting the new EU traffic-light system for travel, it should mean there will be more overseas travel in 2021, providing of course, that it is safe to do so.

travel in 2021 will be more accessible with EU traffic light system in place 

The new EU traffic light system for Ireland is as follows:

Regions are considered Green when:

The 14-day notification rate is lower than 25 cases per 100,000 of population and the test positivity rate is below 4%.

What restrictions apply?

None. Persons arriving from EU green regions are not required to restrict their movements.
 

 

 

Regions are considered Orange when:

The 14-day notification rate is lower than 50 cases per 100,000 of population and the test positivity rate is 4% or higher.

OR

The 14-day notification rate is between 25-150 cases per 100,000 and the test positivity rate is below 4%.

What restrictions apply?

Travellers are required to restrict their movements for 14 days, except where travel is for essential purposes as outlined here.

The request to restrict movements for 14 days can be waived if travellers have received a negative/not detected Covid-19 PCR test result during the three days before arriving in Ireland. In this case, passengers are requested to have supporting evidence of the negative test in their possession. 

It is also possible to reduce quarantine times by taking a PCR test in Ireland, five days after arrival – see more below.

 

 

 

Regions are considered Red when:

The 14-day notification rate is 50 cases per 100,000 of population or higher and the test positivity rate is 4% or higher 

OR

The 14-day notification rate is higher than 150 cases per 100,000.

What restrictions apply?

Travellers are required to restrict their movements for 14 days, except where travel is for essential purposes as outlined here. Quarantine times can be reduced by testing – see below.

 

 

 

Regions are considered Grey when:

There is insufficient information provided, or if the testing rate is lower than 300 cases per 100,000 of population.

What restrictions apply?

Travellers are required to restrict their movements for 14 days, except where travel is for essential purposes as outlined here.
 

 

 

If I take Covid-19 PCR test, can I eliminate or reduce quarantine times in Ireland?

travel updates due to coronavirus

The request to restrict movements for 14 days can be waived for passengers arriving from an Orange region, if they have received a negative/not detected PCR test result during the three days before arriving in Ireland. In this case, passengers are requested to have supporting evidence of the negative test in their possession.
 

 

 
Travellers arriving after 29th of November from a Red region can restrict their movements for five days, and then take a Covid-19 PCR test in Ireland. If they are in receipt of a negative / non detected result from this test they will no longer have to restrict their movements – this reduces the quarantine time from 14 days to 5. If the test is positive, they will have to restrict their movements for 14 days.

This provision will also be available to travellers arriving from an Orange region who may not have taken a pre-departure test.

A PCR test with certification is currently available from Randox at a cost of €99 and other suppliers throughout the country. 
 

 

 
Please note, there is currently a separate travel advisory for passengers arriving from Denmark. All such passengers, including those travelling for essential purposes are requested to self-isolate for 14 days.
 

Read: Top 10 tips for travelling during Covid-19

Read: Make sure to fill out Passenger Locator Forms before you travel overseas 

How to get a refund if your flight is cancelled
 

 

 

Is there anything else I should know?

eu traffic light system for travel will see more Irish people travelling in 2021

Notwithstanding the above, travellers are required to adhere to the public health advice and not travel if they are symptomatic of Covid-19, a close contact of a confirmed case, or have been advised to restrict movements by doctors. Everyone arriving in Ireland excluding essential transport workers must complete a passenger locator form and are expected to following the Government’s current public health advice.

Read: Make sure to fill out Passenger Locator Forms before you travel overseas

Note: The above guide is researched from reputable websites, however, travel advice and updates are changing on a daily basis. It is important to check with the country and travel provider you are booking with before taking any steps to to travel abroad.

 

 

 

Sarah

Travel Tips

8 Things To Know If You Are Thinking of Travelling Overseas This Summer

plane and beach

Should I stay or should I go? A question I have been asked so many times lately! While this is a personal decision, hopefully my handy guide should help if you are thinking of travelling overseas this summer.

 

Whether we like it or not, overseas travel is happening, with, our without government advice against non-essential travel in place. While I am not recommending that anyone ignore public health advice, in fact I have cancelled my own summer holiday to Spain, I understand many people are thinking of travelling overseas to see relatives, or to their holiday homes, and many others are weighing up the pros and cons of travelling overseas if their flights are operating and no refunds are due. 

Instagram

 

The fact that Ireland is allowing visitors into Ireland, even from high risk countries such as the USA, only ads to confusion about whether we should or should not travel. Hopefully this handy guide will help you decide whether to travel or stay at home. If you do decide on travelling overseas my 10 tips for travelling during Covid-19 will help you prepare for that journey.
 

 

 

1. Government advice against non-essential travel is still in place. 

government advise against overseas travel

The Irish government are currently advising against non-essential overseas travel to all countries except those that are on our “Green List“. It is important to note that this is just advice – if you want to get on a plane to Spain (currently not on the Green List at the time of publication), you can. The latest government travel advice as stated on the Department of Foreign Affairs website is as follows:

In accordance with Government policy, which is based on official public health advice, the Department of Foreign Affairs continues to advise against non-essential travel overseas. This includes Great Britain but does not apply to Northern Ireland. It also includes all travel by cruise ship. However, as of 21 July, travel to a very limited set of locations is exempted from this advice. The security status for those locations to which non-essential travel can resume has been changed to ‘normal precautions’ (“green”) rating. Individuals arriving in Ireland from these locations will not be required to restrict their movements on arrival.

Read: Latest travel updates due to Coronavirus
 

 

 

2. You need to self-isolate for 14 days after returning into Ireland

quarantine at home after overseas travel

Currently if you travel abroad to ANY overseas country that is not on the Green List, including the UK, you should self-isolate for 14 days on your return. This Green List is subject to change and will be updated every two weeks.
 

 

 
Upon your return into Ireland you will be given a locater form to fill out, where you must provide contact details and information on where you will be self-isolating. You may be contacted by government officials to check if you following their advice. Note, it is illegal to NOT fill out the locater form, but NOT illegal to break quarantine.
 

 

 

3. If you travel against government advice, your travel insurance will be invalidated

whether to travel overseas

If you travel against government advice to non ‘Green List’ countries it is important to note that your travel insurance will be invalidated. This could have serious financial repercussions if you travel outside of the EU. However, if travelling within Europe, you can get the European Health Insurance card which will give you medical treatment for free, or at a reduced rate, in all European countries. See more here. Note, this will only cover you for medical treatment, and not for cancellation or curtailment, or for expenses occurred should you have to remain in a country due to a Covid-19 outbreak
 

 

 

4. Modern aircraft have air filtration systems similar to hospital operating theatres.

modern aircraft have HEPA air filtration systems on board

While the plane journey is just one of the components associated with travelling overseas, it is one that many are concerned with. However, it has been widely stated that the risk of catching an infection on an aircraft is typically lower than in crowded shopping centres or pubs. The main reason is that modern airplanes have cabin air filtration systems equipped with HEPA filters. HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air filters) have similar performance to those used in hospital operating theatres, and can capture 99% of the airborne microbes in the filtered air. You can read more on HEPA here.  
 

 

 

5. Prepare in advance for a  plane journey

whether to travel overseas this summer

If you are thinking of travelling overseas, is important to plan out your journey carefully. Priority boarding may no longer apply, and cabin baggage polices may change – airlines will do all they can to mitigate queues and will not want you standing in the aisles using the overhead bins. Note all airline policies differ, so make sure you check with the airline you are using.
 

 

 
Face masks will be mandatory on planes and inflight services will be very limited. Most transactions will be cashless, in flight meals will be either non existent or simple snacks, so bring your own food on board, or allow extra time in the airport to enjoy a pre-flight meal.

Read: My top tips for traveling during Covid-19
 

 

 

6. Countries have individual policies.

beach time

It is important to check the guidelines in the resort / city that you are going to. Some holiday resorts and hotels will require you to pre-book pool times, beach space and even breakfast times. If there is a particular restaurant or theme park that you wish to visit, book it in advance to avoid disappointment. 

Masks are mandatory in many countries and you may get our temperature checked on arrival. Holiday hot spots like Spain and Portugal depend on tourism, and you will find that they will do all possible to ensure protocols are being obeyed. I have already seen evidence that the percentage of people wearing masks is much higher in these countries than in Ireland, and early reports from Spain and Portugal is that holiday resorts are quiet and holiday makers feel reassured that strict measures have been put in place.
 

 

 

7. Flights are and will operate from Irish airports regardless of government advice and refunds wont be given.

ryanair

Many airlines are currently flying from Irish airports, but schedules with some airlines are only being announced a few weeks before departure. If you are due to travel over the next few weeks and you have not been told your flight is cancelled, then it is more than likely operating.
 

 

 
If your flight operates, and government advice against non-essential travel is still in place, you are NOT entitled to a refund if you wish to cancel. Most airlines will allow you change dates for free, note Ryanair will only waive change fees on NEW bookings made since the 10th of June.

You may be able to claim on your travel insurance if you don’t want to travel, and government advice against non-essential travel is still in place to the country you are due to travel to, but best to check with your insurance provider, as all policies are different.
 

 

 

8. You ARE entitled to a refund if your flight is cancelled

flights cancelled

If your flight is cancelled, you are entitled to a refund under EU261. These are taking longer than usual to get processed, but you should receive one if you apply. Note EU 261 is an Air Passenger law, and applies to flights originating from Europe, not hotels, package holidays etc. 

Read: How to get a refund if your flight is cancelled
 

 

 
For more information on the latest travel updates, how best to secure a refund and travel insurance, check out the travel tips section of my website.

 

 
Sarah

The Travel Expert

 

Pin It on Pinterest