Public health measures for COVID-19

Measures and restrictions currently in place

The Government has introduced measures to control the spread of COVID-19.

You should follow public health advice to protect yourself and others, including advice on social distancing.

The ‘Resilience and Recovery 2021: The Path Ahead’ is a plan to manage COVID-19.

For more information on the easing of restrictions, see COVID-19 restrictions in Ireland.

Measures in place now

You can travel outside your county.

Work from home, unless your work is an essential service that cannot be done from home.

Members of 3 households can meet outdoors or 6 people from any number of households. The 6 person limit does not include children under 13.

You should not visit other households indoors except for essential purposes. Fully vaccinated people can meet indoors in private homes if there are no more than 3 households there. This can include unvaccinated people from 1 household if they are not at risk of severe illness.

Personal services such as hairdressers are open by appointment.

Click and collect services by appointment and outdoor retail are open.

Outdoor training has resumed in pods of up to 15.

High performance athletics approved by Sport Ireland and training for adult inter-county GAA has resumed.

Outdoor organised events can take place with up to 15 people in attendance

Bars, cafes and restaurants are closed except for take-away food and delivery.

Galleries, museums, libraries and other cultural attractions are open. Outdoor facilities such as golf courses, tennis courts, zoos and heritage sites have reopened.

Property viewings can take place by appointment only.

Places of worship can have up to 50 people attend services. More than 50 people can attend if the premises is large enough for people to follow strict social distancing measures.

Wedding and funeral services can have up to 50 people attend. Weddings can have 15 guests outdoors or 6 guests at indoor reception. No other events are allowed for a funeral.

Residents in nursing homes can have up to 4 visits per week if at least 8 out of 10 residents have been fully vaccinated for 2 weeks. Residents of all other nursing homes can have 2 visits per week.

All construction work has resumed.

There are restrictions on travel into Ireland and travel abroad.

See further details on Level 5 restrictions.

Easing of restrictions from 17 May

From 17 May, all non-essential shops can open.

Restrictions will ease further in June, depending on public health advice.

Support bubbles

A support bubble, also called a paired household or an extended household, is when an isolated person from one household has close contact with one other household. In a support bubble, the 2 households can meet indoors, even though they do not live together.

There are special rules about who can form a support bubble. You can only form a support bubble if you:

  • Live alone
  • Live alone with children under the age of 18
  • Share parenting or custody arrangements
  • Live with an adult you provide care for
  • Live by yourself and have a carer or carers who support you, including a live-in carer

If you are an essential worker and you do not have an existing childcare arrangement, you can form a bubble with another household for childcare.

You can form a support bubble with one other household that is not already part of a support bubble.

Travel restrictions

Under current restrictions, you can travel to any county in Ireland.

Accommodation services such as hotels remain closed to guests. You can stay in your own stationary mobile home or caravan if you are the owner of the mobile home or caravan.

Travel abroad

You must only travel abroad if it is essential to do so. Some of the permitted reasons for travelling abroad are set out in Statutory Instrument 217 of 2021 (pdf). A Garda may accept other reasons that are not on this list. You should have evidence of the reasons for your travel.

You can receive a fixed payment notice for €2,000 for unnecessary travel abroad or be at risk of court prosecution.

Mandatory quarantine

By law, you must quarantine when you arrive into Ireland, unless your journey starts in Northern Ireland. If you arrive from a designated country without being fully vaccinated, or do not have a negative or not detected PCR test as required, you have to quarantine in a designated hotel.

COVID-19 Laws

On 20 March 2020, the Health (Preservation and Protection and Other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Act 2020 was signed into law.

The Act gives the Minister for Health the power to make regulations to introduce measures to slow down the spread of the virus.

Under this Act, the Minster can make regulations to:

  • Restrict travel to and from Ireland
  • Restrict travel within Ireland to stop people moving to and from affected areas
  • Stop gatherings of people from taking place, and to make organisers of these gatherings put safeguards in place to prevent the virus from spreading
  • Make businesses (such as shops) put safeguards in place to protect their staff and customers
  • Close premises, including schools

Laws in place now

The Government continues to issue guidance to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. It has also passed laws that make it an offence to do or not do certain things.

Current restrictions are set out in the Health Act 1947 (Section 31A - Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) (No. 2) Regulations 2021 (pdf), as amended.

By law, you cannot host or attend an indoor event in a private home unless it is just for the residents and up to 2 other households. You can only hold an outdoor event at your home if there are either:

  • No more than 6 people (from any number of households)
  • No more than 15 people (from your household and two other households)

If you do not comply with the above rules, it is an offence and you can get a fixed penalty notice or be prosecuted.

Gardaí have the power under the Health (Amendment) Act 2020 to attend at the entrance of any private home where they believe an unlawful gathering is happening and direct any non-residents to leave it or direct those approaching not to attend.

Face coverings

The following laws apply until 9 June 2021:

International travel during COVID-19

You can receive a fixed payment notice for €2,000 for unnecessary travel abroad or be at risk of court prosecution. Some of the permitted reasons for travelling abroad are set out in section 4 of Statutory Instrument 217 of 2021 (pdf). A Garda may accept other reasons that are not on this list. You should have evidence of the reasons for your travel.

You must complete a Passenger Locator Form on or before your arrival in Ireland and tell the authorities if your residence details change within 14 days. This is set out in the Health Act 1947 (Section 31A – Temporary Requirements) (COVID-19 Passenger Locator Form) Regulations 2021.

You must have proof of a negative or not detected COVID-19 test (PCR) when you arrive in Ireland from anywhere other than Northern Ireland, unless you are in an exempted category. The test must have been taken no more than 72 hours before you arrived.

You must quarantine when you arrive into Ireland, unless your journey starts in Northern Ireland. If you arrive from a designated country without being fully vaccinated, or do not have a negative or not detected PCR test as required, you have to quarantine in a designated hotel.

It is an offence if you do not follow the hotel quarantine laws or obstruct a designated official or a member of An Garda Síochána seeking to enforce these hotel quarantine laws. You can be fined up to €2,000 or be sentenced to imprisonment for up to a month or both.

These provisions are set out in the Health (Amendment) Act 2021(pdf).

Most arrivals to Ireland must quarantine at home or in their place of residence. If you do not quarantine at home or in your place of residence, you can be fined up to €5,000 or face 6 months in prison, or both. There are very limited exceptions where you do not have to complete home quarantine.

Home quarantine regulations are set out in Statutory Instrument 135 of 2021 (pdf), as amended, which applies until 9 June 2021.

Some travellers are exempt from quarantine as set out in Statutory Instrument 134 of 2021 (pdf), as amended.

Detentions and fines

During COVID-19, various regulations have given An Garda Síochána additional powers, including arrest without warrant.

Offences are punishable by a fine of up to €5,000, up to six months imprisonment, or a combination of both.

Fines and fixed penalty notices

For certain offences, you can be fined a fixed amount. A Garda can give you a fixed penalty notice. If you do not pay it within 28 days, you can be prosecuted in court.

A Garda can issue the following fixed penalties under the Health Act 1947 (Fixed Payment Notice and Dwelling Event Provisions) (COVID-19) (No.2) Regulations 2021, as amended:

Offence Fixed charge
Not wearing a face covering on public transport, without a reasonable excuse €80
Not wearing a face covering in a retail outlet, or other specified premises, without a reasonable excuse €80
Attending an unlawful social or recreational gathering in a home €150
Organising an unlawful social or recreational gathering in a home €500
Organising a prohibited event that is not in a home €500
Travelling to a port or airport without a reasonable excuse €2000

Detention due to health risk

The Health (Preservation and Protection and Other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Act 2020 also allows for detention of someone who is a potential source of infection and risk to public health, if it is necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19.

You may be detained if you refuse to stay in a specified place like your home or a hospital, or you cannot be isolated in any other way.

If you are detained, you will be tested as soon as possible and you can ask for a review of your detention by an independent person on the grounds you are not a source of infection. Failure to comply with a detention, or interfering with the detention of a person is a criminal offence.

Previous measures

Measures to delay the spread of the virus taken on 12 March 2020 included closing schools, colleges, childcare facilities and state-run cultural institutions. Hospital visits were restricted. Pubs were advised to close. These measures were extended, along with further measures announced on 24 March 2020.

The Government announced the Roadmap for reopening society and business (pdf) on 1 May 2020.

On 2 September 2020, the Resilience and Recovery 2020–2021: Plan for Living with COVID-19 (pdf) was published. This included a plan to manage COVID-19 using different levels.

On 23 February 2021, a revised plan to manage COVID-19 was published called Resilience and Recovery: The Path Ahead (pdf). A re-opening plan for May and June was announced on 29 April 2021.

Page edited: 10 May 2021