Irish MEPs ask for coronavirus quarantine exemption

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Irish Meps Ask For Coronavirus Quarantine Exemption Irish Meps Ask For Coronavirus Quarantine Exemption
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Three Irish members of the European Parliament have written to the Government asking for a change in coronavirus travel restrictions to allow them take tests rather than self-isolate for two weeks.

Ciarán Cuffe, Billy Kelleher and Seán Kelly want to make it easier for them to travel and work between Ireland, Brussels and Strasbourg.

They say they need to attend the European Parliament in person and staying in quarantine when at home in Ireland would restrict their activities.

“This week, the European Parliament reconvened after the summer break and will sit weekly, in either Strasbourg or Brussels, until Christmas. To fully carry out our duties, we need to attend in person,” the letter from MEPs Billy Kelleher, Seán Kelly and Ciarán Cuffe reads, according to a copy seen by The Irish Times.

“Under the current guidelines, each of us must quarantine for two weeks upon our return to Ireland. This significantly restricts our activities when we are home.”

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“We understand that guideline[s] for essential workers are under consideration, and hope that the needs of those in similar circumstance can be taken into consideration, whether it be long-distance Heavy Goods Vehicle drivers or Government Ministers.”

The move comes after Phil Hogan quit his role as EU Commissioner due to the golfgate controversy – partly because he broke coronavirus travel rules.

The Government's nominees to replace Phil Hogan in the job will be confirmed "in the next two days".

The Taoiseach has said the names of "two strong candidates" will be given to the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

The three coalition leaders are still considering who they will put forward for the job, with Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney in the mix, along with European Parliament Vice-President Mairead McGuinness and MEP Frances Fitzgerald.

Meanwhile, air passengers may be able to avoid quarantining for 14-days under new longer-term plans being considered by the Government.

Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan told the Dáil on Thursday that the HSE has the capacity to carry out 100,000 tests per week, and he said that when it comes to aviation, there is a careful balancing act between balancing lives and livelihoods.

Eamon Ryan also said the new plan to deal with the pandemic going forward is more important than the upcoming budget.

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