The Cabinet agreed to add several European countries as well as the USA and Canada to the State’s mandatory hotel quarantine list at a specially convened meeting on Friday night.
A total of 16 countries have been added to the list. They include Belgium, France, Italy, and Luxembourg as well as the USA and Canada.
The other countries on the list include Bangladesh, Kenya, Pakistan, Turkey, Armenia, Bermuda, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Curaçao, Maldives and Ukraine.
A decision was also taken to remove Israel, Albania, and St Lucia from the list of countries for mandatory hotel quarantine. However, the Government agreed that anyone currently in mandatory quarantine who has travelled from or through these states must complete their period of quarantine.
States being added to the designated list will be included as a priority on the booking system for mandatory hotel quarantine early next week, with passengers from these states entering quarantine starting from 4am on Thursday next April 15th.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said protecting public health as a matter of urgency has been to the fore of these decisions around mandatory quarantine.
“This is another strong move following public health advice relating to variants of concern with Covid-19. These variants pose a significant risk to our fight against this disease and our vaccination programme. This decision also reinforces Ireland’s biosecurity, ensuring we have the strongest measures in place in Europe,” he said following the meeting.
Government sources told The Irish Times there are currently in the region of 650 hotel rooms available now for mandatory quarantine, but this will increase to more than 1,100 by the end of the month.
Earlier it was confirmed thousands of travellers came into the Republic from some of these countries.
Figures released by the Department of Transport show that during the most recent week for which statistics are available, almost 3,000 people arrived into the State from France, Germany, Italy and the United States.
The push to add more countries to the list caused a bitter row between Government departments last week, with resistance particularly from the Department of Foreign Affairs to the step.
At present Austria is the only EU member state on the list, which is dominated by countries in South America, sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East.
On Thursday the HSE confirmed ten cases of Covid-19 have been detected among arrivals into the country who are being accommodated in hotel quarantine, since the system was established two weeks ago.