Know your rights: Travel Green list
I have to travel to a country on the ‘COVID-19 green list’ for essential purposes. What happens if it gets taken off the list while I am abroad?
The Government is advising against all non-essential travel overseas. But people may need to travel to and from Ireland for essential purposes and international travel cannot stop completely.
For that reason, on 21 July 2020, the Government published a ‘green list’ of countries with a similar or lower incidence of COVID-19 to that of Ireland. People entering Ireland from these locations do not have to restrict their movements for 14 days. The list is intended to act as a guide to where Irish residents may travel safely for essential purposes, such as for essential work or to care for family members.
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFA) travel advice for countries on the ‘green list’ is that you should take ‘normal precautions’. This means that the country is as safe as Ireland. The security rating for all other locations remains unchanged at either ‘avoid non-essential travel’ (‘orange’) or to ‘do not travel’ (‘red’). However, because the international transmission rate of the virus changes constantly, the ‘green list’ is reviewed every 2 weeks. That means that countries and locations can be added or removed at the end of each 14 day cycle.
For example, on 4 August 2020, two weeks after the ‘green list’ was first published, the Government removed 5 countries from the list (Malta, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Monaco, and San Marino) because they had rising incidences of COVID-19. This meant that any Irish people who had travelled to Malta, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Monaco, or San Marino before 4 August 2020, now have to restrict their movements for 14 days upon returning home.
In conclusion, if you travel to a country or territory on the ‘green list’ and the country is removed from the list while you are abroad, you will have to restrict your movements for 14 days to minimise your risk of spreading the virus. This means you must not:
- Visit other people.
- Meet face-to-face with anyone who is at higher risk from COVID-19.
- Use public transport (if possible). If you have no option but to use public transport, you must wear a face covering.
- Go to the shop unless absolutely necessary. If you have no option but to go to the shop, you must wear a face covering.
Lastly, everyone travelling into Ireland from any location, a ‘green list’ country or not, must complete a Passenger Locator Form.
You can find out more about the rules regarding international travel during COVID-19 on citizensinformation.ie.
Know your rights: Wearing face coverings
Now that face coverings are mandatory in shops, I am concerned as I can’t wear a face covering?
Face coverings are not suitable for everyone and the law recognises this. For instance, children under 13 do not have to wear one. Even in places where face coverings are now mandatory such as public transport and in most shops, pharmacies, hair salons and other retail environments, you don’t have to wear one if you have a reasonable excuse.
If you have a reasonable excuse to not wear a face covering you should tell a member of staff in the shop or tell the driver or inspector on public transport. But what exactly is a reasonable excuse?
You have a reasonable excuse not to wear a face covering if you:
- Cannot wear a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or a disability, or because it would cause you severe distress
- Need to communicate with someone who has difficulties communicating
- Remove your face covering to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person or to provide emergency assistance to someone
- Remove your face covering to take medication
- Remove your face covering to avoid harm or injury
You don’t have to wear a face covering in post offices, credit unions or banks, sit-in restaurants or cafés or medical or dental offices.
Certain people do not have to wear one. For example, retail workers and drivers of public transport do not have to wear a face covering when they are separated by a screen from the public. Members of the Garda Síochána do not have to wear a face covering when performing their duties.
During the COVID-19 pandemic you can contact your local Citizens Information Centre:
• Bray CIC on 0761 07 6780 Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm
• Email Bray CIC at firstname.lastname@example.org – anytime
From July, a limited number of appointments are being made in Bray Citizens Information Centre
You can find comprehensive integrated information online at citizensinformation.ie/covid19/ and you can get daily updates on what’s changed on Twitter at @citizensinfo. You can also get information and advice from:
- The Citizens Information Phone
Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday,
9am – 8pm
- Our national call back service: Visit citizensinformation.ie/callback to request a phone call from an information officer