Saturday, May 08, 2021

James Cox

People who travel abroad for urgent medical reasons no longer have to stay in mandatory hotel quarantine when they return.

The new guidance from the Department of Health applies to carers and children who travel with them.

Mandatory hotel quarantine currently applies to 71 countries, including several EU states.

Fianna Fáil senator Lisa Chambers is welcoming the new exemption.

Ms Chambers said: “Let’s be honest, the fact that this wasn’t in place initially was probably an oversight but one that would have impacted really severely for people who were travelling for those reasons, so I think that’s a very sensible and logical resolution to that issue.”

Meanwhile, a number of European politicians have rowed in on concerns led by the Italian community in Ireland that the current quarantine system is discriminatory against citizens of certain countries.

A letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney, voicing the distress of some of their constituents and asking Ireland to “find solutions” for Irish residents faced with the financial constraints of quarantine after travel to countries on the list, was sent on April 17th.

The correspondence is co-signed by Alexandre Holroyd, member of the Assemblée Nationale for French citizens in Northern Europe, Massimo Ungaro, member of Camera dei Deputati for Italian citizens in Europe and Laura Garavini, member of Senato della Repubblica for Italian citizens in Europe.

The letter states: “The Republic of Ireland has recently introduced a mandatory hotel quarantine for arrivals from sixteen additional countries including France and Italy.

“While this measure may seem necessary to limit the spread of the virus, it is causing an undue burden on many foreign citizens who in the case of an emergency, which would justify needing to travel abroad, would be unable to do so because of the cost of quarantine upon return.

We would like to take this opportunity to voice the distress of some of our constituents living in Ireland who may be compelled to travel for essential reasons such as the funeral of a loved one and find themselves unable to return to their own residence in view of the financial constraints associated with the quarantine regime.

“The protection of public health in Ireland is an unquestionable priority, and hotel quarantines are legitimate means to ensure this result where there are no other alternatives.

“However, where those entering Ireland have a permanent residence where they can safely quarantine, this could be an alternative solution to facilitate essential travel.

“As members of foreign Parliaments representing their citizens living in Ireland, we naturally understand that this is a debate and a decision which fully rests in the hands of the Irish government.

“However, we would like to take this opportunity to voice the distress of some of our constituents living in Ireland who may be compelled to travel for essential reasons such as the funeral of a loved one and find themselves unable to return to their own residence in view of the financial constraints associated with the quarantine regime.

“As vaccine campaigns pick up pace all over the European Union, the light at the end of the tunnel is beginning to shine brighter. We can hope to travel again soon and reunite with our families and friends regardless of where they live, fully embracing the benefits of the freedom of movement we have become accustomed to.

“We are most obliged for any actions that may be undertaken to find solutions for those Irish residents faced with such exceptional circumstances.”

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