Ireland ends hotel quarantine for travellers

Move terminates mandatory two-week stay for people entering the country from list of 'designated states'

A passenger covers her face after getting off a designated quarantine bus at Crowne Plaza Dublin Airport Hotel, as Ireland introduces hotel quarantine programme for 'high-risk' countries' travellers, in Dublin, Ireland March 26, 2021. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
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Ireland on Saturday stopped its system of mandatory hotel quarantine for travellers arriving in the country, as authorities continue ease coronavirus rules in the Republic.

The health ministry said the decision was "based on the latest advice received from the chief medical officer".

Ireland's unwinding of restrictions follows the UK government's decision earlier this month to overhaul its Covid travel rules from October 4.

Since late March, travellers arriving from a list of "designated states" have been subject to a mandatory two-week hotel quarantine.

As well as arrivals from designated states with high Covid-19 rates, travellers who failed to comply with entry requirements such as negative PCR tests have also been subject to hotel quarantine.

The health ministry said over the past six months nearly 10,300 people have passed through mandatory hotel quarantine.

About 600 of those tested positive during their stay, the ministry said.

Irish health minister Stephen Donnelly said at its height the system encompassed travellers arriving from some 60 countries, peaking with more than 1,000 being held in quarantine in early May.

He said mandatory quarantine "was introduced as an exceptional public health measure at a time that our country was contending with the very serious risk of importation of variants of concern".

It "played a central role in protecting the population, maintaining control of the disease and enabling the safe relaxation of restrictions on our economy and society," he said.

The coronavirus has claimed 5,209 lives in Ireland, the latest official figures show.

But most pandemic curbs have now been lifted in the nation of five million.

Dublin on Monday dropped longstanding advice that employees should work from home.

The reopening of society has been enabled by a very high rate of vaccine uptake, with more than 90 per cent of adults now fully inoculated.

Updated: September 26th 2021, 5:03 AM