Hotel quarantining measures for arrivals to the country are to be in place by mid-February, according to Micheál Martin. The Taoiseach said the landscape has changed “very significantly” from COVID-19 variants that have emerged, with the country now “in a race” to get people vaccinated.
The ruling affects travellers coming from specific countries which have an increased risk of the COVID-19 variant. The Taoiseach said the government would like to have hotel quarantining in place by mid-February for people arriving from countries such as Brazil and South Africa, where there are other strains. Those who arrive in the country without a negative PCR test will also have to hotel quarantine.
On last night’s RTÉ’s Prime Time, the Taoiseach said they would hope to have it in place “in a similar timeline [to the UK] and we’re working on that against a very serious issue in our Constitution in terms of personal liberties”. He believes it has not “taken so long” for the ruling to be introduced, considering the other groundwork that needed to happen first.
“We announced it two weeks ago we thought we would move in this direction,” the Taoiseach said. “We’ve brought in a raft of measures since that government decision from police checking at airports, to increasing fines from €100 to €500 if you’re in breach of level five on the way to the airport, to the home mandatory hormone quarantining, and a number of other measures as well.
“The mandatory quarantining in terms of the hotel facilities, is the next stage and work is already underway in relation to that,” said the Taoiseach. “We do accept that the variants have changed the landscape in relation to this virus, very significantly, and we are in a race, in respect of rolling out the vaccination program, the prolonged suppression of the virus itself, and reducing all potential for its spread.”
The Taoiseach’s comments came after new laws came into effect yesterday, signed by Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly. effect to the Government’s recent decision to introduce a system of mandatory quarantine for arrivals into the State.
Passengers arriving from any destination must quarantine under the regulations for 14 days, either at home or at an address specified on their Passenger Locator Form. There are limited exemptions from the quarantine laws for essential reasons which include workers for repair and maintenance of critical infrastructure. But there will not be any exemptions for people arriving from high-risk countries such as Brazil and South Africa. Tánaiste Leo Varadkar recently said if one were to be brought in, it would be hard to reverse and “would probably be for a year”.