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Funeral-goers arriving in Ireland from restricted countries will not be exempt from mandatory hotel quarantine

Arrivals to Ireland from restricted countries list will have to stay in their room.

Image: RollingNews.ie

FUNERAL-GOERS ARRIVING into Ireland from one of the countries on the restricted list will not be exempt from mandatory quarantining in a hotel for 14 days, according to government sources.

Passengers arriving into Ireland on the restricted countries list, which is due to be updated today, will have to book their own hotel stay and remain in their room for a full 14 days, it is understood.

While the debate around mandatory quarantine has centered primarily on holidaymakers, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar warned his parliamentary party last night that mandatory hotel quarantine will lead to “really hard cases” of people being unable to leave or get into Ireland for family or work reasons.

A further 18 countries are to be added to the list of countries from which people arriving into Ireland will be required to quarantine in a hotel, bringing the total to 20. 

However, sources state that the list may grow in the coming weeks.

Primary legislation is required before people are mandated to quarantine in hotels, but people arriving from countries which have been classified as ‘category 2′ are currently legally required to self-quarantine for a full two weeks. 

Previously, Brazil and South Africa were the only countries on this list. 

Currently, if a person comes from South Africa, they have to complete the full 14 days quarantine, regardless of whether they have a negative PCR test upon arrival. There is no exemption for travellers from these countries who are attending a funeral. 

This will also be the case when passengers are required to quarantine in hotel rooms.

Speaking on RTÉ Morning Ireland today, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that Austria, the United Arab Emirates, and 16 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are among those that will be added to the list later today.

Anyone arriving into this country without a negative PCR test is also considered ‘category 2′ and must quarantine for a full two weeks. 

Government sources say that any exemptions to quarantining introduced by the government brings a risk. 

Exemptions to quarantine are only applicable to the likes of supply chain workers, diplomats and those in elite sports.

At last night’s Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting concerns were raised about couples who travel abroad for IVF treatment.

Many people choose to travel to elsewhere in Europe for treatment because the process can be thousands of euro cheaper than in Ireland.

Last year, the government was accused of giving mixed messages on travel abroad for people who need to travel overseas for fertility treatment.

Senator Regina Doherty also expressed concerns about “demonising” travellers at last night’s meeting.

She called for more antigen testing for people travelling abroad as opposed to fines of up to €2,000.

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Legislation

Legislation for mandatory hotel quarantine is due to be introduced as early as next week, But the Tánaiste has said “lots of little things” have to be considered, such as how to consider smokers who would be kept inside a single room for 14 days.

There are a number of constitutional difficulties, Varadkar said last night, stating that a question about proportionality may surface.

Expanding on the issues today in the Dáil, Varadkar said: 

“I think it will be argued, that it is disproportionate to impose mandatory hotel quarantine on people who do not have Covid when we do not do that to people who do have Covid.  

“At the moment, there are lots of people in the country who have tested positive for Covid and, fortunately, none of them is in mandatory hotel quarantine. That is where we may very well run into a very genuine legal issue around proportionality, because the vast majority of people travelling in from overseas do not have Covid and they have a test to say they do not, whereas we know there are hundreds of people every day in Ireland testing positive for Covid and we do not mandatorily quarantine them.”

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said yesterday that the mandatory hotel quarantine legislation is “not without complexity”. 

“There are real concerns around civil liberties and other issues that we are seeking to get right. However, subject to the legislation being passed by this House, I imagine that it will be a matter of days following that, before it will be in place,” he said.

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