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Mandatory hotel quarantine: Taoiseach says he is open to include more EU countries

DUBLIN: The Taoiseach has stated that he is willing to include more EU countries on the list of mandatory hotel quarantine countries.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said his view was that countries with a variety of concerns should be included in the list. The process of determining such countries is ongoing. A meeting is being held today to take decisions in this regard.

But Mr. Martin said there are no concerns on the legality of the legislation. The Taoiseach also refused to reject a move that would limit the number of passengers allowed into the country. But he said that “we are not at that stage yet”.

“The key issue is to protect against variants and the Government will be deciding on that and there will be discussions about how to activate that. It’s not just countries with variants, but there are a number of criteria,” Mr. Martin said.

“The key objective of this [mandatory quarantine] was to reduce variants of concern coming into the country. But the primary concern is the B117 variant and community trasmission. As numbers of that come down, the more options we have both in easing of restrictions and in terms of ending mandatory quarantine,” he said.

The list of high-risk countries was proposed by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) in accordance with the Travel Expert Advisory Group’s instructions. There were disputes between various departments of the government over this. In addition to the previous 33 countries, 26 more have been added to the list and one was removed. According to the latest additions, the number of countries on the list is 59.

Meanwhile, the Attorney General criticised the expansion of the list in the name of freedom of movement for EU citizens. However, the Taoiseach said that “the attorney general doesn’t have legal issues with the legislation, which is very much grounded in variants of concern.” He added that the legislation had been unanimously approved by Cabinet.

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