Public health measures for COVID-19

Measures and restrictions

The 'Reframing the Challenge, Continuing Our Recovery and Reconnecting' plan sets out the phased easing of COVID-19 restrictions in Ireland.

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

You can get information on current restrictions, including current measures in place on our page: COVID-19 restrictions in Ireland. The measures are subject to change depending on the public health situation.

New restrictions from 7 December 2021

On 3 December 2021, the Government announced new restrictions from 7 December 2021 until 9 January 2022:

  • All nightclubs will close
  • Table service only in pubs and restaurants
  • A maximum of 6 people will be allowed per table in pubs and restaurants
  • Multiple table bookings will not be permitted
  • Entertainment, cultural, community and sporting events will operate at 50% capacity and must be fully seated
  • You must have proof of immunity to access gyms, leisure centres, restaurants and hotel bars

You can meet indoors in private homes if there are no more than 4 households there, including your own.

These restrictions will remain in place until at least 9 January 2022.

Indoor service in bars and restaurants

Indoor service in bars and restaurants has reopened. Pubs, restaurants, nightclubs and licenced venues must close at midnight. Hotels can serve drinks after midnight for residents to drink in their rooms.

To access indoor service, you must show proof that you are fully vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 in the past 6 months. Children under 18 who are dining with you do not need proof of vaccination or recovery.

You can use an EU COVID Digital Certificate (DCC) or a HSE vaccination record as proof. You need to have identification to show that the proof of vaccination or recovery belongs to you.

Read about the types of documents that are accepted.

Travel restrictions

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

Travel restrictions are in place for arrivals from certain countries in southern Africa.

From Sunday, 5 December 2021, all arrivals aged 12 and over who are fully vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 must provide either of the following:

  • A negative antigen test (taken within 48 hours before arrival)
  • A negative RT-PCR test (taken within 72 hours before arrival)

The test result must be certified and not self-administered.

If you are not fully vaccinated or recovered, you must show a negative RT-PCR test taken within 72 hours before your arrival.

Travel abroad

You should check the public health advice, document requirements and COVID-19 restrictions that are in place in the country you are going to. You should do this even if you are travelling to an EEA country.

Ireland is operating the EU Digital COVID Certificate for travel within the EU and EEA.

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.

This was extended until at least 9 November 2021 by the Health and Criminal Justice (Covid-19) (Amendment) Act 2021. The Dáil has voted to extend these powers until 9 February 2022.

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, as amended, and apply until 9 January 2022.

These regulations set out restrictions on certain businesses, hotels and other services.

Indoor service in pubs, restaurants and nightclubs

Regulations on indoor service are set out in SI 385 of 2021 as amended, which are in place until 9 January 2022. The regulations set out what you can use as proof of vaccination or recovery. Regulations on earlier closing times are set out in SI 596 of 2021.

Businesses can refuse entry if you cannot show proof of vaccination or recovery or you cannot demonstrate that your certificate relates to you.

Electronic tickets must be used to access some live entertainment venues, such as nightclubs. Permitted customers can use a bar counter in a licensed premises to order, purchase or collect food and drinks.

If businesses do not operate on this basis, they may be liable for fines or closure.

Cinemas and theatres

You must show proof of vaccination or recovery to attend a cinema or theatre. This is set out in SI 597 of 2021.

Face coverings

The following laws apply until 9 February 2022:

You do not have to wear a face covering if you have reasonable excuse for not wearing one.

The above regulations have been extended until at least 9 February 2022 by Statutory Instrument 585 of 2021 (pdf).

International travel during COVID-19

You must complete a Passenger Locator Form online before you arrive in Ireland and tell the authorities if your residence details change within 14 days. This is set out in the SI 45 of 2021 (pdf), as amended, which applies until 6 February 2022

Failure to do this is an offence.

Some arrivals to Ireland are required to show proof of pre-departure testing (RT-PCR), unless you are exempt, for example if you have evidence of vaccination or recovery.

Exemptions from pre-departure testing are set out in Statutory Instrument 135 of 2021 (pdf), as amended, which apply until 9 February 2022.

Travel from scheduled states

If you were in a scheduled state in the past 14 days, you should not travel to Ireland, unless you are exempt.

If you are exempt, you must have a negative RT-PCR test taken within 72 hours before you arrive, even if you are fully vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19.

You must home quarantine and take a RT-PCR test on day 2 and day 8 after your arrival. You can leave home quarantine on day 10 if you get negative tests.

The above regulations are set out in SI 639 of 2021 (pdf).

Detentions and fines

During COVID-19, various regulations give 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

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. A further easing of restrictions for June, July and August was announced on 28 May 2021.

The 'Reframing the Challenge, Continuing Our Recovery and Reconnecting’ plan was announced on 31 August 2021. This included a plan for phased easing of restrictions during September and October.

Page edited: 3 December 2021