1392. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Justice when the suspension on accepting new visa and preclearance applications will be lifted; the reason for this suspension; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18513/21]


Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): The decision to temporarily cease accepting new visa/preclearance applications, with the exception of Priority or Emergency applications, applies to all countries and has been in place since 29 January 2021. Applications that were received prior to 29 January 2021, will continue to be processed. However, unless the application meets the Emergency or Priority criteria, a visa or preclearance approval letter will not issue until such time as these restrictions have been lifted.
These measures are designed to support our current public health restrictions on movement, including into and out of Ireland. The increased travel restrictions, along with the mandatory hotel quarantine measures introduced as part of the Government’s efforts to interrupt the transmission of COVID-19, means that travel may not be possible and even if possible is not advisable unless absolutely essential.
The framework for these restrictive measures is set out in the Government’s Resilience and Recovery: Plan for Living with COVID 19. These measures have now been extended to at least 5 May 2021.
When making such decisions, the Government considers the expert public health advices of NPHET to tackle the disease. The situation will continue to be reviewed in consultation with the relevant authorities in the coming weeks.