Home quarantine to be considered by Ministers amid row over travel list

Home Quarantine To Be Considered By Ministers Amid Row Over Travel List
A member of the defence forces directs passengers due to undergo hotel quarantine at Dublin Airport. Photo: PA Images
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Talks to defuse a Government row on mandatory quarantine will this week consider an expanded role for quarantining at home and how vaccinations might be used to reduce periods of isolation after travel from certain countries.

Senior Government sources told The Irish Times that talks between officials would take place this week – most likely Tuesday or Wednesday – in an effort to find a compromise after moves to add several EU member states and the US to the list of countries eligible for mandatory hotel quarantine caused a serious political row last week.


The expansion of the list is aimed at minimising the risk of coronavirus “variants of concern” spreading from countries, some of which have strong travel links to the Republic.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly is understood to be committed to proceeding, notwithstanding opposition from other Government Ministers, most notably Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney.

“His view on this is not going to change,” said a well-placed source of Mr Donnelly’s stance. The leaking of the extended list of countries caused a significant row last week, viewed by some as an attempt to “bounce” the rest of Government into accepting its expansion.

There was significant diplomatic fallout arising from the leak, with one Government source telling The Irish Times it caused “consternation” in European capitals, while another said there was “real annoyance” over how the story had played out.


Legal concerns

Mr Donnelly has the legal power to add countries to the list without the approval of Cabinet ministers.

However, he does need the support of Attorney General Paul Gallagher. The Attorney General expressed concerns about the legality of plans to add more countries to the list last week.

One minister told The Irish Examiner there was “a strong view from the health experts that more need to be added and a real concern that we could see a repeat of Christmas, when Irish people came home and may have brought new variants with them.

“With the vaccine rollout ramping up and summer coming, if ever there was a time it’s now.”

Stephen Donnelly preparing to add more countries t...
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Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn will be briefed by a travel advisory group on Wednesday with advisers expected to recommend adding countries, including Poland and the Netherlands, to the list.

Last week 26 countries were added to the list.

Of the 59 “designated states” whose passengers are required to complete two weeks of mandatory hotel quarantine, 12 have a coronavirus 14-day incidence rate below 10 cases per 100,000.

Seventeen of these countries also have a rate lower than any country in Europe, and 28 have rates below that of Ireland (157.12).

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