Information on Covid-19 for Refugees and Asylum-Seekers in Ireland
As an Irish resident, it is important that you are familiar with all the precautions that can be taken to avoid and prevent infection of yourself and those around you.
How do I contact UNHCR?
UNHCR Ireland is only arranging appointments in person on a strictly limited basis by appointment only where necessary and appropriate in accordance with health and safety guidelines and when arrange in advance. The protection team remains available to help by email, phone and whatsapp.
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 01 631 4613
Whatsapp: 089 247 2984
What measures to counter COVID-19 are in place in Ireland?
The public health advice is that the future trajectory remains uncertain.
In the meantime the government has outlined public health advice which is outlined here:
Rollout of vaccination programme
To get a free COVID-19 vaccine you can register for an appointment at a vaccination centre. You can also go to a walk-in clinic without an appointment at certain times
To find out more, go here:
International Travel Requirements
Ifyou are travelling to Ireland from overseas you must fill out a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) before departure.
With effect from Thursday 6 January 2022, passengers to Ireland with:
- an accepted proof of vaccination, or
- proof of recovery from COVID-19 in the prior 6 months
do not have to show an additional pre-departure COVID-19 test result.
More information can be found here:
Quarantine measures for residents of direct provision
From 19 July, quarantine on return will no longer be required for direct provision residents who are absent overnight from a centre.
If a person is absent for a period longer than one overnight in a week from a centre without advising a centre manager or IPAS, or if the person has been deemed to be no longer resident in IPAS accommodation due to an unexplained prolonged absence, IPAS may re-allocate their accommodation.
IPAS has stated that the measures above are required to ensure accommodation is available to all International Protection applicants who require it. Where accommodation has been reallocated, a person may at any time contact IPAS ( [email protected]) and new accommodation will be arranged. IPAS have also advised that quarantine is not required where a person who had moved out of IPAS accommodation wishes to be re-accommodated by IPAS. However, you must contact IPAS directly to arrange this.
What health and self-isolation advice is available to refugees, asylum-seekers and other vulnerable groups during the crisis?
Asylum-seekers and refugees are included within the national measures to stop the spread of this pandemic. In line with the National Action Plan in response to Covid-19, the government is putting in place specific measures to protect vulnerable groups, including those in direct provision.
Additional information on the government’s measures to protect asylum-seekers, including its contingency planning for centres, can be found here:
Are refugees and asylum-seekers included in health and Government welfare support?
Yes. The Health Care Executive (HSE) has identified groups of people who are at 'very high risk' and 'high risk' from Covid-19. Among these groups are residents of long stay settings, which include direct provision centres.
The HSE is working with the Department of Justice to implement a series of measures to prevent and control the spread of Covid-19 in Direct Provision Centres. Public Health Specialists are supporting Infection control, prevention and control measures across all centres.
Meanwhile, critical response teams have identified specific measures that need to be taken in centres, including around handwashing and the visitors.
As in other countries around the world, the United Nations is advocating that everyone, including all migrants, refugees and undocumented people, are ensured equal access to health services and are effectively included in national responses to COVID-19, including prevention, testing and treatment. Inclusion will help not only to protect the rights of refugees and migrants, but will also serve to protect public health and stem the global spread of COVID-19.
What should I do if I am in a vulnerable group?
According to the HSE, the list of people in at risk groups include people who:
- are 60 years of age and over, people over 70 are particularly vulnerable and should cocoon
- have a long-term medical condition - for example, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, cancer, cerebrovascular disease, renal disease, liver disease or high blood pressure
- have a weak immune system (immunosuppressed)
- have a medical condition that can affect your breathing
- residents of nursing homes and other long-stay settings
- are in specialist disability care and are over 50 years of age or have an underlying health problem
If you are in any of these groups, please inform the manager in your centre and the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) as soon as possible as further measures may need to be taken in order for you to protect yourself and self-isolate.
What should I do if I am a healthcare worker and live in Direct Provision?
As a healthcare worker, or someone who provides home support, and lives in Direct Provision, you may be able to apply for alternative temporary accommodation during the pandemic under a scheme established by the HSE.
- You can apply for temporary accommodation as a healthcare worker if you:
- live with family members that are self-isolating and you cannot return home
- live with vulnerable persons
- require emergency accommodation due to urgent response or mitigating factors
- require accommodation in order to facilitate rosters
- share accommodation where you are at an increased risk of getting or spreading COVID-19 (this does not include couples or co-habiting family members who normally live together)
- returned from overseas and are contracted to work and require accommodation
- live in congregated domestic living arrangements, for example, a hostel, a direct provision centre
You can find further information on the application procedure and other details of the scheme here:
Can I leave my direct provision centre during the current crisis?
All direct provision residents are required to strictly comply with public health measures – this is for the protection of all residents. Serious breaches of these measures or overnight absences from the centre, except in order to go to work as an essential worker, may result in you not being allowed to return to your centre. If you need to leave the centre for any protracted period of time it’s important that you communicate the reasons for this to the centre manager.
Any person wishing to return to an accommodation centre having left due to COVID19 must self-quarantine for 14 days prior to returning to the centre. IPAS has put this procedure in place on the advice of the HSE and to protect the health, safety and welfare of residents and staff of accommodation centres.
For more information, please click here
What to do if you come in close contact with someone who has Covid-19?
It is important that everyone follows public health advice at this time in order to reduce the amount of people affected by Covid-19. In order to do so, the Health Service Executive (HSE) has issued guidance on what to do if you come in close contact with a person who has Covid-19.
You are considered a ‘close contact’ to if you have direct contact with that person for more than 15 minutes in a situation where you were less than 2 meters away from them during that time.
Examples of close contacts are household contacts or people who share same sleeping space or room with a person who has Covid-19 Sometimes it may also include people who share communal kitchen facilities or communal bathrooms but the local HSE Social Inclusion Specialist will inform you if you are a close contact./ you will be informed if you are a close contact
If you are a resident or staff member in a centre and are identified as a close contact of a person who has contracted Covid-19, a Public Health doctor or HSE Social Inclusion Specialist will advise you to restrict your movements for 14 days and you will be monitored for symptoms.
- You should restrict your movements and stay in the centre you live in as much as possible;
- You should not have visitors;
- You should avoid social gatherings, group events and crowded settings
- You should not go to work;
- You should not use public transport;
- You should avoid contact with the elderly, those with chronic health problems and pregnant women.
It’s important that you follow these measures for your own health and well-being and those of others living with you in the centre. Public health measures and restrictions apply equally to all staff and residents.
As a close contact you may receive an information guide such as this leaflet on what measures to take: https://www.hpsc.ie/a-z/respiratory/coronavirus/novelcoronavirus/guidance/contacttracingguidance/Information%20on%20Close%20Contact%20COVID19.pdf
I live in a Direct Provision centre. How can I social distance myself from other residents?
The IPAS Living with Covid Plan is available here. This sets out the guidelines in direct provision centres according to the national restriction level.
We understand that social distancing is difficult in group settings. However, the HSE advises that minimising gathering in commons areas of the centre and maintaining a distance of two metres are some of the most effective ways of preventing the spread of the virus.
Everyone in Ireland is urged to stay in their home wherever possible. (see ‘What measures to counter COVID-19 are in place in Ireland?' above for further details)
These measures were initially in place until 12 April but they have been extended as they are making a difference in reducing the spread of COVID-19. These measures are necessary to prevent the spread of the virus and protect everyone .All direct provision residents, like all members of the public, are required to strictly comply with these public health measures – this is for the protection of all residents. Serious breaches of these measures or overnight absences from the centre without explanation other than for reasons set out by the government, may result in you not being allowed to return to your centre. If you need to leave the centre for any protracted period of time it’s important that you communicate the reasons for this to the centre manager.
If you are a close contact of a person who has contracted Covid-19 you will be told to self-isolate for 14 days. (See information on self-isolation above)
If you have the option of living in alternative accommodation during the crisis then you may do so. You will be allowed to return to direct provision once the public health emergency is over.
What happens if I refuse to follow these measures?
The measures introduced across Ireland are in place to protect your health and wellbeing and those of others living with you.
All asylum-seekers and other direct provision centre residents and staff are subject to the same laws as other people in Ireland.
The new emergency legislation in relation to Covid-19 , called the Health (Preservation and Protection and Other Measures in the Public Interest) Act 2020 gives detention and isolation powers to health officers.
In order to minimise the spread of infection and minimise the risk to human life and public health, the new emergency laws give a medical officer (with the agreement of a second medical practitioner) the power to order the detention of any person who is a probable source of infection.
What steps has UNHCR taken in Ireland to respond?
Since the beginning of the current emergency, UNHCR has worked with the Department of Justice and NGO sector to identify gaps in the government’s response to Covid-19 as it applies to asylum-seekers and refugees and recommended measures to address them. We will continue to monitor the situation and its effect with respect to refugees and asylum-seekers.
UNHCR has recommended that steps be taken to identify vulnerable asylum-seekers so that they can be protected. In addition, UNHCR has liaised with the authorities on communicating with persons of concern including advocating for the creation of up to date information and health advice in different languages. These can be accessed here:
I am finding it difficult to cope and am very anxious and depressed. Can I get any support?
This is an increasingly difficult and challenging time for everyone. The HSE has issued guidance on how to mind your mental health during this time: https://www2.hse.ie/wellbeing/mental-health/minding-your-mental-health-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak.html
Mental health supports and services are still operating at this time. While its not possible to have face-to-face appointments there are a number of service providers offering online and phone mental health supports and services. For more information see: https://www.hse.ie/eng/services/list/4/mental-health-services/connecting-for-life/news/supports-and-services-during-covid-19.html
Can I still make an asylum application?
Reception at the International Protection Office, Timberlay House, 79-83 Lower Mount Street, Dublin 2 is now open between 09:00 and 13:00 by appointment and from 13:00 to 16:00 for walk-in service, Monday to Friday.
I am waiting for my IPO interview, will that be affected?
Substantive interviews are resuming by video conference only until further notice in line with Government guidelines and public health advice. The IPO will contact applicants when their interviews are scheduled.
All applicants scheduled for interview will be written to individually with their interview dates. Please note the revised procedures set out in the interview letter to ensure the safety of applicants and of staff in the IPO.
Nobody should attend for interview who is feeling unwell or has current medical advice to self-isolate or cocoon. Public transport should be used only where there is no alternative.
Applicants with outstanding IPO 2 questionnaires are asked to complete and return the questionnaire as soon as possible please. In light of the current circumstances, the IPO will accept electronically completed questionnaires from applicants once they are signed and submitted in hard copy.
My IPO temporary residence certificate (TRC) and TRC card are due for renewal shortly. What shall I do?
Information on TRC renewals can be viewed here.
Have hearings at the International Protection Appeals Tribunal (IPAT) been postponed?
From the week starting 4th October 2021, the Tribunal has been able to facilitate a limited number of oral hearings on-site hearings in situations where, in application of section 31(2) of the Civil Law and Criminal Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2020, the Tribunal, of its own volition, or following the making of representations by or on behalf of an appellant, is of the opinion that to proceed with the oral hearing of the appeal via audio-video (AV) link would be unfair to an appellant, or would otherwise be contrary to the interests of justice.
Otherwise the Tribunal is continuing to conduct oral hearings via AV link and notifications have issued to all parties with details of the arrangement in place in this regard.
I have a work permit but my permission is due to expire shortly. What shall I do?
The government has announced a further temporary extension of immigration and international protection permissions to 31 May 2022.
For more information, please see:
Is the registration office in Burgh Quay open?
Burgh Quay Registration Office is reopening Monday 10th May 2021 for customers living in the Dublin area.
Appointments for first-time registrations will recommence.
Booking is essential, please see more information on booking here: https://burghquayregistrationoffice.inis.gov.ie/
Updates can be found here:
Have the resettlement and community sponsorship programmes been suspended?
For the first time in its history, UNHCR announced a temporary suspension of resettlement activity in March 2020.
The decision to resume the Irish resettlement programme in November 2020 was taken following an assessment of the measures required to protect public health and in response to the urgent humanitarian needs on the ground in countries of resettlement. All resettlement arrivals into Ireland are conducted in compliance with public health regulations and additional precautions have been put in place to minimise the risks caused by COVID-19.
Who can I contact for information and advice?
The Legal Aid Board and NGOs remain available to give assistance over the phone and by email:
Phone: 087 4563066.
Available for calls from clients Monday-Friday from 10am-12.30pm and from 2pm-4pm
Phone: 01 764 5854
Email: [email protected]
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 061 310 328
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 01 838 9664
Email: [email protected]
Email: [email protected]
Click here for more information on the recent Afghan Admission Programme.