Cork MEP calls for quarantine exemptions if Covid tests come back negative 

Cork MEP calls for quarantine exemptions if Covid tests come back negative 

Billy Kelleher. Picture Dan Linehan

A Cork MEP has called for an exemption on quarantine restrictions for people entering Ireland who test negative for Covid-19 in repeat tests, including MEPs.

Fianna Fáil’s Billy Kelleher has said it doesn’t make sense that the Government isn’t making use of testing when deciding what quarantine requirements are being placed on visitors to the country.

“This doesn’t make sense to me quite frankly. If public health advice in certain EU member states believes that repeat testing reduces the risk enough to allow for reduced quarantining obligations, then why not in Ireland?

“We need to reopen our economy as safely and as quickly as possible. As an island nation, travel by air and by sea is essential.

“Our decision making must be determined by science and by evidence,” Mr Kelleher said.

He has urged the Irish Government to engage fully with the European Commission and the other 26 member states to align future Covid-19 reopening plans.

“Our country cannot be left isolated when it comes to reopening travel and business in the next 6-9 months. We must find a way of engaging that we are not left behind.

“I am aware that the Irish Government will publish its medium-term plans for dealing with Covid-19 this month but I would urge them to engage properly with colleagues across the EU.” 

Mr Kelleher was forced to issue an apology himself for flouting public health guidelines to attend the election of Micheál Martin to the position of Taoiseach in July.

He had flown into Dublin from Brussels on a Friday and attended the Convention Centre for the event the next day.

At the time, Mr Kelleher said that he availed of Covid-19 testing services prior to leaving Brussels “in order to reduce any potential public health risk”.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One on Friday morning, he also called for an exemption for MEPs from restrictions on the basis of negative Covid-19 tests before leaving Brussels. An exemption that would be similar to a small number of other professions.

He added that he cannot attend plenary sessions of the European Parliament remotely, and will "effectively be in self-isolation for 56 days between now and Christmas" if he is to participate in them under current public health guidelines.

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