The Government is to suspend all inward visas for travellers from its ‘red list’ of countries requiring mandatory quarantining on arrival.
he move, to be debated at Cabinet on Tuesday, is intended to to reduce the risk of new variants of Covid-19 entering Ireland.
Visa-free travel to Ireland for nationals of South Africa and all countries in South America had previously been suspended — but allowed visa holders to travel.
At the end of last week Health Minister Stephen Donnelly designated an additional 13 countries for the Red List: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Panama, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela.
They join 20 countries previously designated: Angola, Austria, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, Cape Verde, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Republic of South Africa, Rwanda, Seychelles, Tanzania, United Arab Emirates, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The move means nationals of these countries cannot arrive into Ireland without a visa, while visa applications will be denied. This means only Irish nationals can return home, along with citizens of the EU.
Anyone arriving from these 33 countries and territories or transiting through must now complete a full mandatory 14-day period of self-quarantine, even if they receive a negative PCR test result after arriving in the State.
This applies even if the passenger remains airside in any of the countries during transit on their journey to Ireland.
A spokesman for Minister Helen McEntee said she was separately extending a ban from January that might otherwise have lapsed.
And he said the Department envisaged that in future it could have to add other countries and even members of the EEA (European Economic Area) to the list.