The Government has been accused of creating a “chaotic situation” regarding hotel quarantine, after failing “to get its act together” despite having had plenty of time.
Social Democrats co-leader Roisín Shortall said there should have been enough hotel rooms to meet the demand for mandatory hotel quarantine, as bookings for the system remain paused due to capacity issues.
The numbers required should have been known through modelling, Ms Shortall told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.
Responsibility for the system should have been shared between a number of Government departments as “a huge amount is falling on the Department of Health,” she added.
The Government was now paying the price for the lack of planning with the chaotic situation, Ms Shortall said.
NPHET first recommended mandatory quarantine last May - 11 months ago. Despite all of this time to plan, the system has fallen apart less than three weeks after it was set up. https://t.co/7LdArAKWqWAdvertisement
— Róisín Shortall (@RoisinShortall) April 14, 2021
With a further 16 countries being added to the list from today, Ms Shortall said there was now a need to put a plan in place to deal with all the extra arrivals from those countries.
People arriving from the United States, Canada and France will now have to stay in a quarantine hotel for 12 nights after arriving into the State.
Ms Shortall also said it would be helpful if there was clarity from public health experts on the issue of fully vaccinated people arriving into the country.
While the Minister for Transport has indicated that those who are fully vaccinated could soon be exempt from the system, associate professor at UCD and member of the Independent Scientific Advocacy Group (Isag) Julien Mercille has advised against the move.
You should put people in quarantine whether they’re vaccinated or not
“The vaccines are very good but it doesn’t mean that they’re perfect,” he told Newstalk radio.
“They could still not work with some travellers. Really, you should put people in quarantine whether they’re vaccinated or not.”
Meanwhile, the Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney defended the Government’s handling of the system.
“There’s a reason why no other countries in the European Union are doing mandatory hotel quarantine – because it’s really difficult to do,” he told Newstalk radio.
“We’ve decided, and I think it’s the right decision, to use mandatory hotel quarantine for the highest risk individuals who are coming into Ireland.”
It comes as the number of people arriving into Dublin Airport saw little change during the first full week of the mandatory system.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly previously said the system would be “a very strong deterrent” for travel.
However, official figures for the number of passengers arriving into Dublin Airport show a negligible increase on the week before, with just over 14,100 passengers landing between Monday April 5th and last Sunday.
A greater share of arrivals were non-Irish residents, with the number of non-resident arrivals up by eight per cent from over 8,500 to over 9,200.