Seasonal agricultural workers will not be exempt from completing mandatory COVID-19 testing and quarantine requirements, according to the Minister of Health Stephen Donnelly.

In response to a parliamentary question from TD Chris Andrews, Minister Donnelly confirmed that agricultural workers travelling to Ireland from overseas would have to fulfill a number of requirements.

The minister said they would need “to present a COVID-19 Passenger Locator Form and produce evidence of a negative pre-departure RT-PCR test taken within 72 hours of travel.

“The test result must be shown prior to boarding plane or ferry and once again to border official upon arrival. Any travellers arriving without a pre-travel PCR test result must complete one within 36 hours of arrival at their own expense or will be committing an additional offence.”

Last year, the arrival of seasonal workers from Bulgaria to pick fruit for Keelings caused considerable controversy.

The Department of Business provides permits for workers from outside the EU.

To date, it has provided for:

  • 500 horticulture permits.
  • 150 dairy farm assistants.
  • 1,500 meat processing operatives.
  • 300 meat de-boners.
  • Almost all of these permits are fully exhausted and the Department will review any submissions for extending the permits on a twice yearly basis.

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