People who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 may soon be exempt from mandatory hotel quarantine in Ireland, according to the Minister for Transport.
Eamon Ryan told Newstalk radio that exemptions for those who have been vaccinated could soon be introduced, subject to the advice of public health officials.
At present, anyone travelling from a list of 59 “high risk” countries is required to quarantine in a facility for two weeks and show evidence of a negative PCR test, regardless of their vaccination status.
“We don’t have an international certification process, we’ll have to wait for again health advice and that, there’s still some concern within the health authorities that even post-vaccination people may be transmissible,” Mr Ryan said.
“So they’re cautious around that but I would expect [the exemption] will be a change that we will see in coming weeks and months.”
A further 16 countries, including France, the United States and Canada, will be included on the State’s hotel quarantine list from 4am on Thursday.
Concerns have been raised that hundreds are booking flights from the United States this weekend before its addition to the list, with The Sunday Independent reporting that passenger bookings from New York, Boston and Chicago have surged.
Sinn Féin's transport spokesperson Darren O'Rourke called for the Government to act quickly when adding countries to the list.
“It’s regrettable that it took so long for the Government to stop bickering amongst themselves and to agree to follow the clear public health advice,” he told Newstalk radio.
The students who we’ve spoken to understand the need for quarantine... they just can’t afford it
“I think there’s a number of really important things for Government at this stage. It’s firstly to fully commit to the mandatory hotel quarantine regime, to outline clearly the criteria for adding countries onto the list, and to act rapidly in response to the advice from Nphet because every day that’s lost is a risk for the importation of the virus.”
Meanwhile, the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has called for the cost of hotel quarantine to be waived for all exchange students.
France, the most popular destination for Erasmus placements, is also set to be added to the quarantine list next Thursday.
USI president Lorna Fitzpatrick said: “Many of the students who we’ve spoken to understand the need for quarantine and they’re not objecting to it as a public health measure, they’re simply saying that they just can’t afford it.”