Around 10,500 people arrived in Ireland through Dublin Airport last week, the Minister for Health has revealed.
Speaking in the Dáil, Stephen Donnelly said that between 1,000 and 3,500 people were still arriving in the country every day.
Last week there were around 10,500 arrivals in Dublin Airport alone, he said during a debate on the Government’s legislation on mandatory quarantine for international arrivals.
The Bill will introduce enforced hotel quarantine for people arriving from a list of 20 “red list” countries in a bid to prevent new variants of the coronavirus arriving in Ireland.
Mr Donnelly told the Dáil: “Our travel volumes are significantly depressed compared to the same period last year.
“There are still approximately 1,000 to 3,500 arrivals into the country every day, with about 10,500 people arriving into Dublin Airport just last week.”
He added: “The proposals in the Bill may be regarded by some as harsh and may be regarded by others as insufficient.
“While the UK has introduced mandatory hotel quarantine, very few countries in Europe have introduced such a regime.
“However, the Government believes that the risk of importing variants, and their potential impact on our vaccination programme, means that we must act.
“We believe this Bill strikes a fair and proportionate balance between the protection of public health, and the common good in an unprecedented emergency which we face on the one hand, and the limited restriction of individual rights on the other hand.”
The Minister said there were “serious concerns” that the vaccines which have been developed to date may not be as effective against new variants of Covid-19.
Mr Donnelly said he had spoken with his New Zealand counterpart last week to discuss the implementation of the new measures.
He said: “We will undoubtedly face operational challenges just as they did.
“We may not get everything exactly right from the very start. So, where we need to learn and adapt to the arrangements, this will be done.”
Sinn Féin health spokesman David Cullinane criticised the Government over the length of time it had taken to introduce the measures.
He said: “It’s been nine months since Nphet [National Public Health Emergency Team] recommended that discretionary elements of travel should end, and it is disappointing that nine months later, the solutions in relation to checks and controls at airports are still not put in place.”
He also said that the measures did not go far enough, with Sinn Féin advocating for mandatory hotel quarantine for all international arrivals.