Ryanair condemns new Covid test rules for arrivals in Ireland as "gobbledygook"
The airline is calling on the Government to scrap the rules.
Ryanair has slammed the new rules requiring all arrivals in Ireland from overseas to take an antigen or PCR test in advance of their journey as "NPHET/Government gobbledygook".
From Friday (3 December), people arriving into the State from overseas who have been vaccinated or recovered from Covid-19 will be also required to have a professional, certified “negative/not detected” test result.
This can be from a non-self-administered antigen test taken no more than 48 hours before arrival or a PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before arrival.
As part of the new measures, air and sea carriers will be required to carry out pre-boarding checks for compliance, supplemented by Border Management Unit and Garda National Immigration Bureau spot-checks on arrivals at ports and airports.
Anyone who does not have a Digital Covid Certificate (DCC) based on vaccination or recovery will continue to be required to take a pre-departure PCR test.
Following the announcement of the rules by the Government, Ryanair issued a statement on Tuesday evening (30 November) slamming the measures as "nonsense", stating they had been imposed without consultation with the airlines.
It also said they were issued "without any explanation as to how this gobbledygook is to be monitored or controlled either by the airlines or Irish Border Control".
The statement included comments from Ryanair's CEO Michael O'Leary, who questioned numerous elements of the air travel policy.
“When EU passengers have, for the last six months, been travelling safely with the benefit of the EU DCCs or negative PCRs, what medical or health benefit is to be derived by asking these passengers to now produce negative antigen tests, when both NPHET and the CMO have been opposed to antigen tests for 18 months?" he asked.
"We note that neither the CMO nor the Government have defined what a 'professionally done' antigen test means or looks like.
"How are airlines or Border Control staff supposed to understand what a professionally done antigen test is, or looks like, when neither the CMO nor the Government have even defined it?"
O'Leary said that, as an island on the periphery of Europe, Ireland needs "simple, but effective health measures" for international travel.
"Today’s gobbledygook from NPHET/Government is the opposite of that," he added.
"We now have different rules for vax passengers travelling here from Europe, who now have to produce an undefined negative antigen test, or better still, they can fly into Belfast, and travel across the border without any vaccine or antigen test whatsoever."
O'Leary also called the air travel policy "confusing", claiming that the regulations requiring "unexplained" professionally done antigen tests provide "no additional medical or health benefit" at a time when over 90% of Ireland’s adults are fully vaccinated.
He said Ryanair was calling on the Government to scrap the rules and return to a "simple and readily understood system" protecting the free movement of EU citizens, subject only to the production of an EU DCC or a negative PCR test.
The Government stated the new travel measures will apply for a minimum period of two weeks and will be kept under review with a view to remove them as soon as possible after that period depending on the overall epidemiological situation.
The change comes amid concerns regarding the Omicron variant which was first detected in South Africa last week.
In a statement outlining the new Covid-19 measures, the Government described Ireland's situation with the virus as "uncertain" amid high incidence of disease and with the potential impact of the new variant.