Passengers intending to travel to Ireland from or via Nigeria and 70 other countries after Thursday, April 15, are required to book accommodation for mandatory hotel quarantine.
According to a statement by the Irish Government, any passenger who has been in any of the countries designated in the ‘Category 2’ list in the previous 14 days, even if only transiting through one of the countries, is legally required to quarantine at a designated facility (mandatory hotel quarantine) on arrival in Ireland for 14 days.
“This applies even if the passenger receives a negative RT-PCR test result after arriving in the state,” the statement said.
From next week, travellers from the 71 “high risk” countries as identified by the Irish government must spend 14 nights and pay at least €1,875 (N851,000) per person, €625 (N283,610) for another adult (or child aged over 12) sharing the room, €360 (N163,359) for a child aged 4 to 12, with no charge for infants.
Failure to comply could result in a fine of up to €2,000 (N907,554) or a month in prison, the Irish Government said.
Many intending travellers are shelving or changing their travel plans as a result of this development.
“I was planning to visit Nigeria but upon hearing this news, I may have to cancel,” said a Dublin-based Nigerian who simply identified herself as Yemisi.
The extra cost the new policy will add to Yemisi’s travel expenses coupled with the several COVID-19 tests she would have to pay for are reasons why the young entrepreneur is considering cancelling her business trip.
The Irish Government said the travel restrictions are in place to protect public health and to mitigate the risk of new variants of COVID-19 entering the country.
“These variants pose a significant risk to our fight against this disease and our vaccination programme,” said Irish Health Minister Stephen Donnelly.
Passengers will be required to present evidence of this booking to their flight or ferry operator to board the aeroplane or ferry to Ireland.
According to a travel consultant, the new policy by Ireland could mean more bad news for Nigeria’s aviation industry which is yet to survive the impact of COVID-19 on air traffic.
Airports across Nigeria saw a sharp decline of 46 percent in passenger traffic in 2020 as a result of the huge impact of COVID-19.
Following a shutdown of airports which started in March 2020 and lasted for five months, airlines were forced to park over 120 aeroplanes, losing an aggregated N10 billion monthly. This implies that in five months, airlines lost N50 billion because there were no passengers to fly. All airports in Nigeria were closed to domestic and international flights except emergency and essential flights.
Census data show that Nigeria constitutes the largest African group in Ireland. There are over 20,000 resident Nigerians in Ireland.
Apart from Nigeria with 163,837 COVID-19 cases and 2,061 deaths as of April 12, 2021, Ireland’s list of 71 “high risk” territories includes Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Austria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, the Islands of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, Belgium, Bermuda, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burundi, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Curaçao, Ecuador, Eswatini, Ethiopia, France, French Guiana, Guyana, Italy, Jordan, and Kenya.
Others on the list as Kosovo, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Luxembourg, Malawi, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Mozambique, Namibia, North Macedonia, Maldives, Oman, Palestine, Pakistan, Paraguay, Panama, Peru, The Philippines, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Rwanda, San Marino, Serbia, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Suriname, Tanzania, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United States of America, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and the Territory of the Wallis and Futuna Islands.
Ireland, which has administered 1,045,919 doses of vaccine, on Sunday, April 11 recorded 303 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total cases in the country to over 241,000 with 23,364 recoveries.
Data by the Irish Government show that it has so far lost 4,785 people to the deadly virus.
However, the CEO of the HSE, Paul Reid, praised the ‘significant’ impact of vaccinations.