Please help! New and changing COVID rules have left me utterly confused

Please help! New and changing COVID rules have left me utterly...

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Posted Thu 2 Dec 2021 1:38 AM
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Hello!  I would greatly appreciate any guidance or insights on finding out if it is possible for me to day-trip from Dublin to Belfast and back to Dublin, in my rental car, on the same day.  We are staying in Dublin and really hope to go to Northern Island and visit Belfast just for the day.  When we initially booked our trip to Ireland, this option was straightforward enough, but with the Omicron variant and new testing requirements that vary among nations (which I am happy to comply with) have left me utterly confused, and there is zero information on the web for rental car driving day-trippers. 

Here's the deal:  We depart the USA (LAX) on Dec 15, layover at London Heathrow for approx 2 hours, then catch our flight to Dublin, arriving on Dec 16 about 5:00pm.  We will present our COVID PCR test results (that we will take at home on Dec 14 so within the 72 hours of arrival) to Dublin officials on Dec 16.  We are picking up our rental car at the airport and spending Dec 16 and 17 in and around Dublin.  Then on Saturday Dec 18 we would like to drive across the border into Belfast, spend the day in Northern Ireland, then drive back to Dublin the same day, returning approx 7:00pm.  Then we will be in Dublin for Sunday Dec 19, and we depart on Monday Dec 20 for London Gatwick. (Sidenote, when we land at Gatwick we will take the 2-day PCR test and self-isolate until we receive a negative test result which is the UK's requirement).

Is it possible for us (family of 3, 2 adults and one teenager) to drive across the border and back again on the same day in regard to COVID rules? 

Here is the policy for IRELAND as of today:  From Friday 3rd December, all arriving passengers to Ireland regardless of vaccination status, will be required to present evidence of a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival. Yes, fine, will do.

If you have proof of valid vaccination or recovery, a negative RT-PCR result from a test taken within 72 hours or a negative, professionally administered Antigen test, taken within 48 hours of arrival into the country, will be accepted.  All 3 of us are fully vaccinated including boosters.

You must complete the Passenger Locator Form online in advance of travel and is a requirement for boarding your flight.  Absolutely, we will complete the PLF.

What will be required of us at the NI border? There are different rules than between Ireland and the UK. 
Since Northern Ireland is part of the UK, would we be subject to the 2-day PCR test and self-isolation requirements like England? If yes then we could NOT go into Northern Ireland, which would be a major bummer.

This is the only somewhat applicable info I found on: 

https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-travelling-within-common-travel-area#toc-0 

-we are not staying overnight in Belfast, so that is a non-issue

-also we WILL Have been outside the CTA 10 days prior (at home in the USA, then 2 hour layover in London, then 2 nights in Dublin, then hoping to travel to NI for one day, so for those prior 8 days we are NOT in the CTA as we will be at home in the USA)

-do we have to do a Passenger Locator Form for NI if we are there for one day and not spending the night?

Coronavirus (COVID-19): travelling within the Common Travel Area Travelling to NI from within the Common Travel Area If you're travelling from within the Common Travel Area (CTA) and staying overnight in Northern Ireland, you should take a rapid lateral flow device test (LFD) before you begin your journey. You should only travel if the test is negative. You should also take an LFD test on days two and eight of your stay. You should not travel to Northern Ireland if you have COVID-19 symptoms, or have received a positive COVID-19 result. You do not need to fill in a Passenger Locator Form if you're travelling from within the CTA and you have not been outside the CTA in the last 10 days.

Thanks very much in advance for any help the Community can provide in this rapidly shifting COVID requirement situation between countries.  Best, Lara Davis
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Posted Thu 2 Dec 2021 9:59 AM
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Hi Lara,

Thanks for posting your question, we are sure plenty of others are asking the same!

You certainly have done your research and the changing rules situation is indeed confusing.

The short answer is a day trip would not be possible under the new rules for you.

Entering Northern Ireland in your case is treated as though you landed there, so the rules for arriving from a non-red list country apply. These currently would include the self-isolation until your day 2 PCR test is negative. The rules are written as though you are entering the country to stay at least overnight and not just for a day trip so will sound confusing, but if you need to isolate for 2 days if staying then a day trip is not something that would be encouraged.

We'd suggest keeping an eye on our own Traveler's Health Page for all official resource links for both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

It is very disappointing for you that you won't be able to spend the day in Belfast as you had planned but maybe a trip to say Galway would be a nice treat still?

Best wishes,

Martin

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Posted Thu 2 Dec 2021 5:15 PM
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Group: Community Member Last Active: Tue 14 Dec 2021 5:43 PM Visits: 22
Hi Martin, Thanks very much for your quick response.  This is disappointing but I appreciate the clear response and hope others on this post will also be able to benefit from your information.  Too bad there isn't a rapid 2-day PCR test but I think that is the point, it is the gold standard of tests and takes time to process to determine results.  Best, Lara
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Posted Thu 2 Dec 2021 5:34 PM
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Hi Lara,

Thank you for staying in touch with us!

I do understand your disappointment and appreciate your understanding in regard to these precautions. The situation is continuing to evolve, so I'd suggest keeping an eye on the resources Martin linked to stay up to date on any changes. 

In the meantime, if you need any help planning for an upcoming adventure, we'd be more than happy to lend a helping hand! Is there anywhere in Dublin you plan to visit while here with us, for example?

Please do feel free to share more!

Warmly,
Rochelle
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Posted Mon 6 Dec 2021 9:32 AM
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Just in case anyone has come across this post trying to get to grips with the ever-changing guidelines, I thought I would add some extra detail.

Entry to the Republic of Ireland currently requires that if you are from overseas you must fill out a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) before departure. From Sunday 5 December 2021, passengers to Ireland will be asked to show a negative test for COVID-19. This can be in the form of a professionally taken antigen or RT-PCR test, depending on your vaccination status. Please check our traveler health page for the links to the official pages.

From 4am, Tuesday 7 December all people aged 12 years and over must take a PCR or LFD COVID-19 test before they travel to Northern Ireland from abroad. You must take the test within the 2 days before you travel to Northern Ireland. This will apply whether you qualify as fully vaccinated or not. This new rule is in line with travel to the UK, passenger locator forms are also required.

Lara, it would seem that when you return to London Gatwick on the Monday, you will all need this new test as you will not have been in the CTA for longer than 10 days and your original tests will be out of the date parameters. You will also need a test in the 24 hours before traveling back to the US as they are introducing tests for all travelers including US citizens.

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Posted Tue 7 Dec 2021 11:10 PM
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Hello Martin, Thank you for your message.  Yes, we have several points of testing:

Test 1) Departing USA, PCR Test within 72 hrs arrival to Dublin

(we transit through London Heathrow on our way to Dublin but no test required for layover-transit)

Test 2) Departing Dublin, take antigen test within 24 hrs of departure to London Gatwick

Test 3) Arriving London Gatwick, take 2-day PCR test for international arrivals

Test 4) Departing London via Eurostar train for Paris, take in London within 24 hrs boarding train to Paris

Test 5) In Paris get PCR test to re-enter USA within 24 hrs departure back to USA

Summary:  We must get for entry into IRELAND (get in USA), enter ENGLAND (get in DUBLIN), intl arrival England (GET IN LONDON), FRANCE (GET in LONDON) and to RE-ENTER the USA (GET IN PARIS)


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Posted Tue 7 Dec 2021 11:14 PM
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Question for the Experts...now that our plan to go to NI won't be happening, and since we have a rental car we'd like to day-trip to the Cliffs of Moher and Galway on Saturday Dec 18. I think we should leave Dublin about 6:30AM, and we'd like to be back in Dublin by 7:00pm.  Would it be possible to go to both places?  Could you please recommend places to visit/sights to see?  We would of course go to the Visitor Center at the Cliffs of Moher, but I don't know Galway at all.  Any tips, recommendations, places to see would be greatly appreciated!  Thanks very much!  Lara
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Posted Wed 8 Dec 2021 2:31 AM
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In case anyone else needs this ever-changing info:

For those transiting (layover) through London Heathrow to Dublin, you now DO need to test before arriving England for your layover!

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-air-travel-guidance-for-passengers#transiting-through-england

Passing through England as part of an international journey is called ‘transiting’.What you need to do when you transit through England depends on whether you transit airside or landside.The rules are different if your final destination is within the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.
Airside transit is when you do not pass through UK border control. You remain ‘airside’ before you leave the UK on your connecting journey. You need to take a COVID-19 test before you travel to England.You do not need to complete a passenger locator form before travel to England.When you are in England you do not need to quarantine or take any COVID-19 travel tests.

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Posted Wed 8 Dec 2021 2:34 AM
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and before we leave USA for Dublin via Heathrow, we will need to test "in the 2 days before your service to England departs" NOT 72 hours as I posted above...so we will test here in the USA within the 2 days before our layover at Heathrow and this will meet timeline guidelines for Ireland entrance as well. 
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Posted Wed 8 Dec 2021 10:18 AM
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Hi Lara,

Thanks for your very helpful information as you try to finalize your arrangements!

The Cliffs of Moher and Galway are a great combination, it is a popular day trip for people staying in Dublin. I would suggest booking your Cliffs tickets online for a discount on the gate entry prices. It's about a 3-hour drive and there is also a toll on the M4 Dublin to Galway motorway. Euro change is easiest for this although there are manned lanes so they can give you change from a note.

Galway City is a wonderful place to visit too. Plenty of things to see and do in and around the city, a walk through the shopping area is well worth it too. Full of friendly people and buskers and the Christmas Market will be back on this year. Days are shorter this time of year but the Christmas lights will make the darkest days memorable.

Hopefully, you will enjoy your changed itinerary and have plenty of wonderful memories of your time with us.

Warm regards,

Martin


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