Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Questions (633, 679)

Neale Richmond

Question:

633. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Health if he plans to introduce emergency contingency plans on international travel within the European Union should the South African variant of Covid-19 become the dominant strain of Covid-19 infections in most European Union member states and the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7992/21]

View answer

Neale Richmond

Question:

679. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Health his plans to introduce emergency travel measures if a new and more deadly strain of the Covid-19 virus were to appear in the European Union; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7994/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 633 and 679 together.

The Government has actively responded to the risks posed by the evolving epidemiological international situation, including the variants of concern originating in Great Britain, South Africa and Brazil.

In order to mitigate the risks posed by the new variants of concern, Ireland has moved to a mandatory quarantine regime, with an incorporated testing regime, which involves enforcement measures and penal provisions. Travellers arriving from overseas, including international travellers who arrive via Northern Ireland, are required to complete a COVID-19 Passenger Locator Form and provide evidence of a negative pre-departure RT-PCR test taken within 72 hours of travel upon arrival.

Arriving passengers, with limited exemptions, are required to quarantine for 14 days at the address given on their Passenger Locator Form. A negative or ‘not-detected’ result from a PCR test taken no less than 5 days after arrival can end the quarantine period.

The current list of ‘Category 2 countries’ now includes 20 states and those who arrive from these countries are subject to stricter quarantine requirements. Arrivals from these countries do not have the option to end quarantine early if they test negative.

The operationalisation of designated quarantine facilities is being advanced on a cross-departmental basis as a matter of priority, including the drafting of primary legislation to provide for these facilities.

The Government is closely monitoring the international epidemiological situation and giving close consideration to travel policy based on public health advice.