Stephen Donnelly has said that the Government could put a cap on the number of people who enter Ireland. It would be similar to New Zealand and Austrailia.
“It’s possible certainly – that’s the system that the Australians and the New Zealanders run”, Donnelly said.
The Health Minister continued, “The way that would work really is allocation based on room availability”.
“But the system that we have in place what we want to do is to match supply to demand. But obviously when it’s impossible to know exactly what the reduction is going to be – you know you add capacity as you as you go”.
Mr Donnelly also added that hotel quarantine calculations were based on an 80% reduction in travel from countries.
“The capacity is calculated on an 80% reduction. What we saw in the UK, for example was between an 80 and a 95% reduction”, Donnelly remarked.
“We’ve seen for the first 33 countries a very significant reduction”.
He added, “But it is one of the challenges of hotel quarantining is you’re putting capacity in place based on assumptions that to some point you have to wait and see what the reduction is”.
“Obviously, if we have less of a reduction than that will bring more capacity online”.
“And there is the facility to go significantly above that”, he added.
“It is the case though, as with the New Zealand system, the Australian system and other quarantine systems, that you may not in all cases be able to have a room allocated on every single day that you may want to travel”.
Stephen Donnelly also defended the gap between announcing a new country to the quarantine list and enforcing it.
The minister said that it gives travellers the chance to book into isolation facilities. Adding that it was “perfectly natural” for travellers to want to return home before the rules took effect.
“What we don’t want is a situation whereby you have a lot of people who are already scheduled to come back to Ireland. Who are arriving in Dublin Airport or Rosslare Port or anywhere else and they haven’t booked”.
Donnelly added, “What we want is a system that can be managed. Whereby people can book and for those people who arrive in between the designation and the day it goes live. Remember there’s still a lot of measures in place”.
“A very significant reduction” – Donnelly
While it is “perfectly natural” for people to travel home to avoid quarantine, Donnelly said it is important that travel from those areas is reduced.
“Inevitably, when you categorize any state as category two there is going to be a few days and there is going to be a bit of this”.
He continued, “But in the main what we’re going to see is a very significant reduction in travel from these countries, which is exactly what we want”.
“And then for those people who do have to come home for exceptional reasons, we have the additional security measure in place”.