Coveney: Hotel quarantine should not apply to countries with high number of Irish residents

Coveney: Hotel quarantine should not apply to countries with high number of Irish residents

Countries where a high number of Irish people reside should not be included on the Government's 'Category 2' list according to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney.

This follows a recommendation from the Travel Expert Advisory Group which suggested countries such as the US, Italy, France and Germany should be added to the list of 'high-risk' countries, which requires arrivals to complete two weeks in hotel quarantine.

Mandatory hotel quarantine began at 4am on March 26th, meaning passengers arriving from 33 countries named on the list now must pre-book and pay for a 14-day stay at a Government appointment hotel.

As reported by The Irish Times, Mr Coveney questioned whether the existing hotel quarantine set-up would be able to cope with the increased capacity if the suggested 44 additional countries were placed on the list.

He also queried the legal basis for adding that number of new countries, adding it could have legal ramifications relating to the freedom of movement within the EU.

Criticism

The potential move by the Department of Health to add more countries to the Category 2 list has drawn criticism from Ministers and the EU.

The Attorney General has also written to the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly to express concern over the plans.

In an interview with Highland Radio, Mr Coveney said capacity issues must be considered, adding that managing the couple of hundred people currently in hotel quarantine is a different task to managing the thousands that would have to be accommodated if the extra countries were to be added.

Raising the point of Irish people returning from abroad, Mr Coveney said the matter "is primarily about Irish people coming home with a home to go to".

"Is it reasonable, if those people have tested negative or have been vaccinated or recovered from Covid, to put them in a hotel if they have a home to go to where they could be quarantined?" Mr Coveney asked.

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