People travelling from some European Union countries may soon need to isolate in Ireland’s mandatory quarantine hotels.
Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said that more EU countries are to be added to the quarantine list.
France, Italy and Germany could be included, with Mr Ryan saying the Government has been responding to the public’s concerns over the high rates of infections in those countries.
“Additional countries will be added – for some people that presents a real burden but it’s a burden I think we’ll have to bear because we want to err on the side of caution,” Mr Ryan said.
“I would expect that a sort of decision like this would probably be approved by Cabinet next Tuesday.
“It would probably take us a number of days after that to implement whatever measures, but that’s what I was expecting.”
Mr Ryan said the Government would heed expert advice.
“We are going to have to adapt because the numbers will change and therefore the circumstances will change and the advice will change, and we will have to be fairly quick and adapt,” he said.
“I expect the expert advice will show what we can all see in the daily numbers that the rate of incidence is very high and the concern about variance is very significant. So, we will heed that advice.”
It comes as 26 more countries were added to the list last week, with Israel, Albania, Palestine, Bahrain, Nigeria, the Philippines, Monaco, Oman and Qatar among the new additions.
Plans to include the US, France, Italy and Germany were abandoned amid division among Government members.
However, the Government now looks set to add some of those countries in the next week.
Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris said that the public health advice on mandatory quarantine is necessary.
Speaking outside Government Buildings in Dublin, he said hotel quarantine presents challenges to people but added: “The virus doesn’t care whether you were abroad because you were a student or not a student.”
“The reason we have mandatory quarantine in place is to prevent new variants coming into the country.
“It doesn’t matter whether that new variant is brought in by a student, a worker, someone on a holiday, that won’t matter diddly squat to people in this country if we bring in new variants.”
If that approach changes next week we will provide advice and information and also practical support to students returning from the other European countries
He continued: “The approach we take is we follow the public health advice.
“The legislation is clear.
“At the moment there is only one European country on the mandatory quarantine list, and that is Austria.
“Obviously if that approach changes next week we will provide advice and information and also practical support to students returning from the other European countries.”