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Government considering new travel rules as passengers caught going on holiday and paying €500 fine ‘regardless’ of restrictions

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Tanaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar

Tanaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar

Tanaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar

New travel restrictions may be on the way as some passengers have been caught going on holiday and pay the €500 fine, but carry on “regardless” with their journey.

The three party leaders, Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, met yesterday to discuss the tightening of measures for arrivals into the country.

Some of the measures may include an increase of the fine of €500 to higher amounts for those passengers who are happy to pay the fine and go on holiday, regardless of breaching public health advice.

The measures may also include adding more countries to the Schedule 2 list, which would mean that people coming from those countries must undergo mandatory hotel quarantine.

The Government is also considering mandatory hotel quarantine for people coming into the country for non-essential reasons from holiday destinations.

This comes as Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has called new travel restrictions announced in Britain today as “authoritarian”.

The new travel measures include travellers who are found to have given false information about being in a "red list" country 10 days before travel could receive up to 10 years in prison.

Those who do not self-isolate could have to pay between £5,000 and £10,000.

“I think 10 years is a bit extreme, quite frankly,” Mr Varadkar told Independent.ie.

“The route they’ve gone down is probably a little bit more authoritarian than I think we would find acceptable here.”

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He said there is a need for a “a common policy” between the UK and Ireland when it comes to international travel.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean that the penalties have to be the exact same.”

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly spoke to his UK counterpart, Matt Hancock, earlier today, to see where Ireland and Britain can “align” in terms of travel restrictions.

However, the Tánaiste said that freedom of movement within the EU, Ireland’s Constitution and laws around freedom make our situation “more complicated”.

There are 2,000 passengers a day, on average, over the past three weeks coming into Ireland, with 60pc of those being Irish people.

Of this 60pc, two-thirds of those are coming back from holiday destinations, according to a Government spokesperson.

Less than 1pc of passengers are arriving into Ireland without a PCR test.

This data shows that harsher travel restrictions have to be examined further by the Government, according to the spokesperson.

Mr Varadkar also said that legislation on mandatory quarantine should be ready by next week, although it is understood that it may be several weeks before it takes effect.

Separately, the Government is also revising the current Living with Covid-19 plan.

It is not believed there will be a major overhaul of the five level system currently in place, however the emergence of new variants has meant the plan needs to “further evolve”.

The plan will be updated in the coming weeks, with an official launch to take place on February 22.


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