| 18.5°C Dublin

Cabinet ministers concerned Covid-19 quarantine plans for overseas travellers do not go far enough

Close

Minister Simon Harris is among those who said the new rules did not go far enough. Photo: Julien Behal Photography

Minister Simon Harris is among those who said the new rules did not go far enough. Photo: Julien Behal Photography

Minister Simon Harris is among those who said the new rules did not go far enough. Photo: Julien Behal Photography

Cabinet ministers raised concerns that proposed Covid-19 quarantine plans for overseas travellers do not go far enough.

During a more than four hour Cabinet meeting, ministers pushed for stricter rules on foreign travel over fears unidentified new strains of the virus may make their way into Ireland.

The Cabinet agreed to introduce mandatory quarantine for anyone travelling from South Africa and Brazil, and also for travellers from other countries who do not produce a negative Covid-19 test on arrival in Ireland.

They also agreed to introduce mandatory home quarantine for every other passenger arriving in the country.

However, Culture Minister Catherine Martin and Higher Education Minister Simon Harris both called for stronger regulations than the ones proposed by the Cabinet Committee on Covid-19.

Ms Martin, the Green Party deputy leader, told the meeting she did not believe the quarantine rules were strong enough to deal with the possibility of more variants of the virus emerging. She said a larger managed isolation regime was needed and suggested life would return to near normal by the summer if it was introduced.

Mr Harris also said the new rules did not go far enough and called for more clarity on how the proposed quarantine regulations will work in practice.

Chief Whip Jack Chambers and Education Minister Norma Foley also pushed for tighter restrictions on travellers who are to be legally ordered to quarantine in their home.

Mr Chambers insisted people should be told to remain in their homes for the two weeks rather than be instructed to restrict their movements. He said the messaging on quarantining at home should be strong to ensure compliance.

Daily Digest Newsletter

Get ahead of the day with the morning headlines at 7.30am and Fionnán Sheahan's exclusive take on the day's news every afternoon, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

Mr Chamber’s call for stricter rules on mandatory quarantining at home was supported by Ms Foley.

Questions were also raised at the meeting about how mandatory quarantining at home could be policed.

Ministers also called for the list of essential workers to be narrowed to reduce the amount of people allowed to travel overseas.

Sources at the meeting said the quarantine proposals presented at the meeting needed a lot more work which Health Minister Stephen Donnelly committed to undertaking in cooperation with other departments.

Separately, Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien raised concerns about the impact of the continued ban on non-essential construction.

He told the meeting for every week of the lockdown between 700 and 800 houses will not be built. He said the nine weeks of lockdown this year mean his housing targets will be off by between 6,500 and 7,000 new homes.

The minister made a submission to the Cabinet Committee on Covid-19 over the weekend seeking to have the ban lifted. However, it was decided to extend it to March 5.

The proposals on international travel agreed by the Cabinet included a commitment to increase the fixed penalty charge for breaches of the rules relating to international travel.

They also said they will increase Garda checks and enforcement activity relating to people travelling internationally who are in breach of Level 5 rules.

The existing regulations requiring pre-departure PCR tests will be extended to March 5.

Mandatory quarantine will be introduced for anyone arriving without a test or arriving from Brazil and South Africa.

They said quarantining for people arriving from outside the EU can be introduce through the signing of new regulations but said new legislation will be needed to quarantine all other passengers.

Restriction on travel from South Africa, Brazil and other south American countries, including the suspension of visa-free short-term visits, will be in place until March 5.


Most Watched





Privacy