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Legislation to introduce mandatory hotel quarantine has been passed; measures apply to 33 countries in “Category 2” list

DUBLIN: The Seanad passed the legislation last night imposing a mandatory hotel quarantine on those arriving in Ireland from high-risk countries. The Health Amendment Bill 2021 will now be signed into law by President Michael D Higgins.

These measures currently apply to 33 countries in the “Category 2” list. The list includes countries with a high risk of transmission or mutation of the disease.

Anyone violating the quarantine could face a fine of up to €4,000 or a one month prison sentence for a first offence. The law also increases the fixed notice fine for non-essential travel from €500 to €2,000.

Meanwhile, in the course of the discussion, Health Minister Donnelly said that some aspects of the debate on compulsory quarantine had a “whiff of xenophobia.” “I have heard it said that we must protect our people from foreign people. That is not what this is about,” the minister said.

It was during this discussion that Donnelly explained why Ireland did not follow a Zero COVID strategy similar to that of countries like New Zealand. In order to implement the plan, he said that the current level 5 restrictions in the country would have to be extended for months to come, and schools would have to be closed and the 5 km travel limit would have to be reduced to 2 km.

Meanwhile, Independent Senator Alice Mary Higgins commented that Ireland needs to be consistent in enforcing the criteria for the designation of the countries.

“We hear of xenophobia but it seems very strange to look at a list that is almost entirely made up of countries from the global south when, for example, we know the United States has all the COVID variants and, indeed, new variants such as B1427-B1429,” she said.

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