DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland will double the quarantine period for unvaccinated or partially vaccinated arrivals from Britain to 10 days but still plans to allow people to move more freely between the two countries from mid-July, Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said.
The change is due to the rapid spread of the more infectious Delta variant in Britain, which delayed plans to lift most remaining COVID-19 restrictions there by a month on Monday.
"It is just to reflect concern about the Delta variant and to try and hold back the development of that variant here as much as we can and give us time to get vaccines out to give us cover against it," Ryan told reporters on Tuesday.
Ireland has the strictest travel restrictions in the EU and its advice against non-essential travel will remain in place until July 19 when it adopts the European Union's COVID-19 certificate and applies the same approach to Britain.
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Unvaccinated arrivals must currently present a negative test and self-quarantine for five days until they take a second post-arrival test. Travellers from Britain will now have to take an additional test after quarantining for 10 days.
Ryan said he hoped the 10-day quarantine for unvaccinated or partially vaccinated arrivals from Britain would only be place until July 19.
He added that falling COVID-19 case numbers meant Ireland was still on track to loosen its economic COVID-19 restrictions from July 5 when pubs and restaurants are due to be allowed to serve customers indoors for the first time this year.
(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Catherine Evans)