Almost 30,000 passengers arrived from EU countries in February

ireland
Almost 30,000 Passengers Arrived From Eu Countries In February
People approach Terminal 2 at Dublin Airport, © PA Wire/PA Images
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Approximately 29,900 passengers arrived into the State from EU member countries during the month of February.

The figures for air and sea arrivals, released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), show a 94.3 per cent reduction on the same month in 2020, before the onset of Covid-19 here.

Countries of particular interest include Italy, Germany and France, which were each under consideration to be added to the Government's 'high-risk' list earlier this week.

Arrivals from countries named on the list are required to complete two weeks mandatory hotel quarantine at their own expense, with additions to the list based on the prevalence of the virus and the identification of any variants of concern.

However, the Government chose not to include any EU member states in the latest update on Thursday evening, which saw an extra 26 countries added.

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The decision to omit EU countries from the list, despite the recommendations of the Travel Expert Advisory Group, followed concerns regarding the legal implications of imposing mandatory hotel quarantine on arrivals from EU member states, considering the freedom of movement within the EU.

Oncoming wave

In recent weeks, incidence of Covid-19 has begun to increase across Europe, with Italy and France both re-imposing lockdown restrictions.

In February, 4,700 passengers came to Ireland from France, 1,100 arrived from Italy and 1,800 people came from Germany.

The current criteria for arrivals into the State from countries not named on the high-risk list is they must supply a negative or 'not detected' Covid-19 PCR test result, fill out a Covid-19 passenger locator form and complete 14-days of quarantine at the address they list on their locator form.

The recommendation from the Travel Expert Advisory Group, sent to Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly on Monday night, also said the addition of the United States to the list for mandatory hotel quarantine should be considered.

According to the CSO, 2,000 passengers arrived in Ireland from the US last month, a 97.6 per cent reduction on the volume of arrivals noted in February 2020.

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While air and sea departures from Ireland have fallen dramatically compared to the same month last year, falling by 96 per cent and 84.4 per cent respectively, approximately 53,200 people left the State last month.

Essential travel continues to be permitted under current travel restrictions, however, gardaí continue to issue fines to those found to be undertaking non-essential journeys to ports and airports.

Garda figures released on Thursday show over 1,300 fines were issued up to March 31st for non-essential journeys of this kind.

The addition of the 26 countries to the list comes as minutes from a meeting of the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) reveal some members continue to advocate for a broader approach to mandatory hotel quarantine, suggesting "uniform quarantine measures to all countries".

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