Republic of Ireland news

‘Useful' to have aligned quarantine system in Northern Ireland and Republic

From Friday, all passengers arriving into the Republic from one of the 33 countries flagged as high-risk by the government will have to quarantine for 12 days at a hotel
Cate McCurry, PA

The taoiseach said it would be “useful” to have an alignment between the Republic and Northern Ireland on its mandatory hotel quarantining system.

Micheál Martin also said it would be important to have people travelling through Northern Ireland into the Republic subject to the same legal framework.

From Friday, all passengers arriving into the Republic from one of the 33 countries flagged as high-risk by the government will have to quarantine for 12 days at a hotel.

They are now required to pre-book accommodation in a designated quarantine facility and to pre-pay for their stay.

Read More: Republic's mandatory hotel quarantine could lead to 80% drop in passengers, health minister says

There is no such system in place in Northern Ireland, prompting concerns that travellers could use the region as a back door into the Republic.

Mr Martin told the Dáil today that the Stormont executive may introduce similar plans, but this was not confirmed.

The taoiseach said current restrictions in the Republic and Northern Ireland have been aligned up to now and will remain so until April 5, when lockdown laws will be reviewed.

“Indeed, that alignment may extend because, notwithstanding the progress that Northern Ireland has made on the vaccination programme, there may be a phased approach to the easing of restrictions there,” Mr Martin added.

“I would make the point that, in essence, Northern Ireland has been part of the UK vaccination programme and we have been part of the EU-wide vaccination programme.

“That is well known.

“There has not been an all-Ireland approach on vaccinations for obvious reasons in terms of the source of the supply.

“Ideally, it would be great, but we are not in that ideal situation.

“What would be useful is if we had alignment on mandatory quarantining.

“I understand the Northern Ireland Executive might have said it has plans in this regard but I am not too sure where those plans are or how concrete they are in terms of realisation.

“Obviously, it would be very important if there was alignment in terms of the mandatory hotel quarantining, and people coming through the North will be subject to that legal framework if they come into the Republic.”

Mr Martin said there has been good co-operation between both regions, particularly in the engagement between the councils in the north west of the country.

“In phase two, both local authorities, Donegal County Council and Derry City and Strabane District Council, issued localised leaflets to make the public in that region aware of the restrictions locally,” the Fianna Fáil leader added.

“That is the type of practical co-operation on the ground that we should encourage around restrictions and encouraging people to adhere to the guidelines that generally apply to the prevention of Covid-19.

“We will continue to work and engage, particularly through the group of officials I mentioned, which meets on a regular basis, in consort with the Northern Ireland authorities, to iron out any potential issues or difficulties that may arise.”

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