Citizens living in Ireland should be exempt from hotel quarantine say French, Italian politicians

Cost is ‘an undue burden’ on citizens with home in Ireland who must travel in emergency

 Defence Forces outside the Crowne Plaza quarantine hotel in Santry, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Defence Forces outside the Crowne Plaza quarantine hotel in Santry, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

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Foreign citizens with a home in Ireland should be exempted from Ireland’s mandatory hotel quarantine system when travelling for funerals and other pressing reasons, politicians from France and Italy have said.

In a letter sent to Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, three French and Italian parliamentarians elected by citizens living abroad argued the cost of hotel quarantine was causing “an undue burden” on overseas citizens who need to travel in an emergency.

The letter, seen by The Irish Times, acknowledges “the protection of public health in Ireland is an unquestionable priority, and hotel quarantines are legitimate means to ensure this result where there are no alternatives”.

However, the three signatories argue that when someone entering Ireland has a permanent residence where they can safely quarantine, “this could be an alternative solution to facilitate essential travel”.

The letter is co-signed by Alexandre Holroyd, member of the Assemblée Nationale for French Citizens in Northern Europe, Massimo Ungaro, a member of the Italian Camera dei Deputati for Italian Citizens in Europe, and Laura Garavini, who represents Italians in Europe in the Senato della Repubblica.

The writers say they want to “voice the distress” of their constituents living in Ireland “who may be compelled to travel for essential reasons, such as the funeral of a loved one, and find themselves unable to return to their own residence in view of the financial constraints associated with the quarantine regime”.

Constituents

Mr Ungaro told The Irish Times he feared that the hotel regime would “create huge financial distress” for his constituents. He argued it was “particularly harsh” given the same outcome could be achieved by isolating at home.

Mr Holroyd acknowledged that the decisions taken in Ireland were serious and up to the Irish Government to decide and implement, but that there were “certain circumstances where flexibility should be shown”.

Both men said the exemption should apply to unvaccinated people after the Government here introduced a carve-out for vaccinated persons last week.

The Department of Foreign Affairs had no comment on the letter.

The intervention comes as the Government’s travel advisory group is set to meet again on Thursday to discuss the full international Covid situation. It is expected there will be a particular focus on the situation in India, where case numbers have risen rapidly amid concerns over a new variant of the virus.

A spokesman for the Indian ambassador said that any proposal, if it came, to add India to the list “will cause inconvenience to some sections of Indians living and working in Ireland, which is regretted”.

However, the spokesman said that the embassy “advocates full adherence to domestic regulations falling solely within the jurisdiction of the Irish government, which are designed taking into account all aspects of the pandemic situation, guided by science, public health and safety.”.

“We are confident that such policies will be reviewed pragmatically, as conditions evolve, in the best interest of all residents of Ireland.”

Arrivals

New travel figures show a modest rise in arrivals from some countries around the time they were added to the Government’s travel list. Figures for April 5th-11th show arrivals from France grew from 1,300 the previous week to 1,445, while Italy grew from 245 to 371.

Arrivals from the US, which was added to the list, slightly increased from 735 to 746, with a delay adding a further 135 passengers in Shannon to the statistics who were not due to disembark but did so due to unforeseen circumstances. Arrivals from Turkey grew from 905 to 1,023.

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