European Commission seeks clarity over Irish quarantine

The European Commission has stated the Government must utilize “less restrictive” quarantine measures for people showing up from 5 EU member states which there must be clear exemptions for important travel to Ireland.

The commission stated it had written to the Federal government today asking the Irish authorities to clarify the requirements used to determine which EU nations faced mandatory hotel quarantine.

Travellers from five European Union nations, Austria, Belgium, France Luxembourg and Italy, go through compulsory hotel quarantine when they show up in Ireland.

During a news briefing, commission spokesperson Christian Wigand said: “The commission has issues regarding this step in relation to the general concepts of EU law, in particular proportionality and non-discrimination.

” We have touched with the Irish authorities throughout the previous days on this matter.

” Today the commission sent out a letter to the Irish authorities asking for explanations on this matter and on the criteria used to determine the designated [EU] countries.

” The commission believes that the objective pursued by Ireland, which is the protection of public health during the pandemic, could be accomplished by less restrictive steps.”

Mr Wigand stated that suggestions concurred by EU health ministers in October and February supplied standards for member states to follow and that these included “clear and functional exemptions for essential travel”.

He said: “We invite the Irish authorities to align more closely their procedures taken with the provisions of the council recommendation member states agreed in October and upgraded previously this year.”

Mr Wigand also stated the Federal government had 10 days to respond.

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Countries on list to be examined frequently – Govt

The Federal government stated it had actually already given guarantees to the EU Commission that the list of nations on the designated list for compulsory hotel quarantine will be evaluated fortnightly, if not more routinely.

It said Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly had currently composed to the commission on 11 April outlining the criteria included and the approach utilized by the specialist advisory group on travel in including nations to the list.

RTÉ News understands that the letter stressed that the list will be reviewed at least fortnightly, if not more frequently.

The expert group is continuously keeping an eye on case numbers in these countries.

The letter from Minister Donnelly mentioned that the proportionality test as formulated by EU law was being applied.

It likewise stated a non-discriminatory method was being pursued.

However, the EU Commission composed back today, asking the Government to separate in between the 5 EU nations on the list. The Federal government is anticipated to respond with clarifications.

Meanwhile, it is expected that policies enabling completely vaccinated individuals to be exempt from necessary hotel quarantine will be checked in to law later on this night or tomorrow.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has said the Federal government is positive the quarantine system is “in proportion and sensible” and it will engage with the European Commission to resolve issues it has actually raised.

Minister McEntee told RTÉ’s News at One that the system was presented to safeguard public health and to prevent incoming Covid-19 cases and variants of concern from getting in Ireland and undoing the work that has been done to decrease the spread of the infection.

She said there are really clear criteria utilized to identify which countries are placed on the list for hotel quarantine by a professional advisory group on travel, which was established by the Federal government in March.

The minister said this group had actually established a method of examining dangers by looking at nations where there were outbreaks of Covid-19, where there are brand-new or emerging variations of concern and where there is a high 14- day incidence rate.

This is measured as a rate of infection that is two-and-a-half times greater than in Ireland, where the rate of infection is presently 120 per 100,000 in Ireland.

She stated the advisory group, that includes medical health specialists, examine the level of these aspects and measures the potential ramifications of this before referring its details to the Chief Medical Officer for consideration.

The CMO then makes recommendations to the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly about whether a country needs to be contributed to a hotel quarantine list.

It is understood the commission thinks the Irish procedures are disproportionate given the expense of hotel quarantine.

Officials also have issues over the truth that the 5 member states concerned do not necessarily have the worst records for new versions of the virus.

One official explained that the variant first seen in the UK has currently extensively circulated in Ireland.

The letter being sent out is regarded as a pre-infringement proceedings letter, which indicates it is a formal action towards possible legal action.

The commission sent similar letters to six member states in recent weeks over comparable issues that totally free motion and non-discrimination principles had actually been breached.

Those countries consisted of Germany, Hungary, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden and Finland.

Authorities state that in such cases legal action tends not to be likely due to the fact that the steps presented by member states are, by their nature, momentary.

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Post Author: Izabella Jaworska

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