Italian business leaders in Ireland hit out at mandatory hotel quarantine
Measure seen as ‘discriminatory’ and ‘serious inconvenience’
Italian ambassador to Ireland Paolo Serpi: Ireland has mistakenly targeted Italy
Italian citizens and business leaders residing in Ireland have hit out at Italy’s inclusion on the Government’s “red list” which requires arrivals to undergo mandatory hotel quarantine.
In a letter to the Italian foreign minister and the Italian ambassador to Ireland, they complain that the measure has caused “serious inconvenience and damage” to Italians living and working here.
They also claim the Irish Government failed to provide “the criteria driving the decision” and that on the basis of current Covid infection rates or the prevalence of infectious variants, Italy’s inclusion on the list was not justified.
The letter, which was signed by the leading business figures in PayPal, Google, Mediolanum bank, Benetton, fashion company PVH and Blackstone Credit urges the Italian government to “take action to defend not only our rights as Italian citizens residing in Ireland, but also the reputation and image of Italy in Ireland and Europe. ”
Under the Government’s beefed up Covid restrictions introduced this week, travellers from five EU states, Austria, Belgium, France, Luxembourg and Italy, must now quarantine in a hotel when they arrive in Ireland.
The European Commission has also been in contact with Irish authorities to express concern about the measure .
Brussels is understood to have queried whether the move is contrary to the bloc’s freedom of movement rules.
The commission has sought “clarifications” on how countries are picked to be put on Ireland’s red list, as the five countries selected do not represent those with the highest infection rates in the EU.
Italian ambassador to Ireland Paolo Serpi said freedom of movement is a cornerstone of the EU and if there is a medical reason to restrict it “the motivation must be clear”.
Mr Serpi said he believed Italy and the other four EU states on the list “were mistakenly targeted” by Irish authorities precisely because they have been processing data on the circulation of variants and transmitting it to other member states.
“There were other countries that simply do not do it” and therefore the regulations against Italian arrivals here were “discriminatory” .
Mr Serpi said the Italian community in Ireland, which amounted to around 50,000 prior to the pandemic, is “an important component” and they have been greatly impeded by the measures.
The Italian Irish chamber of commerce also complained that the decision had not been properly assessed from an economic perspective.
“The real issue here is the impact on the trade relationship between Italy and Ireland in the coming months. Such impact is not only for Italian companies or Italian businesses, but for any corporation in Ireland working with Italy or having a large population of Italian employees,” the organisation’s secretary general Alberto Rizzini said.
“While larger corporations will be able to deal with this, smaller enterprises will struggle to survive,” he said.
Speaking on Thursday night, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said he will “make no apologies” to the European Commission or Italian ambassador to Ireland for introducing mandatory hotel quarantine and that he is “confident” the move is in compliance with EU law.