Over 20 countries removed from mandatory hotel quarantine list

Government in discussions with festival promoters over Electric Picnic taking place

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly announces that Russia, South Africa and India are among the countries off the mandatory quarantine list. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/ Collins

People arriving in Ireland from 23 countries including Russia, South Africa and India will no longer have to quarantine in hotels after the requirement was lifted by Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly on Friday night.

Ecuador was the only country added to the list of designated states that fall under the regime for people who do not have valid proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid-19.

It comes as a further 1,875 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in Ireland on Friday.

A total of 326 Covid-19 patients were in hospital and 59 were in intensive care units.


Mr Donnelly also removed Bangladesh, Botswana, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Fiji, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Pakistan, Paraguay, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Uganda, Uruguay, and Zimbabwe from the list of designated States for Mandatory Hotel Quarantine (MHQ).

Meanwhile, efforts to find a way to allow the Electric Picnic music festival to take place are continuing this weekend as the Government develops its plans for reopening the live entertainment sector.

While there is an expectation that there will be an easing of restrictions on arts performances and gigs as early as September 20th, Electric Picnic’s fate continues to hang in the balance.

There is expected to be a general increase in the number of people who can attend outdoor events towards the end of next month, up from the current limit of 500, following discussions among senior Ministers on Friday.

The possibility of using vaccine passes to increase the numbers allowed to attend theatre performances has been discussed, though no final decisions have been made on the matter.

Currently audiences are restricted to 50 people.

Government officials will be engaging with the Electric Picnic’s promoters, Festival Republic, amid hopes the event for up to 70,000 could go ahead in Stradbally, Co Laois next month.

Pilot event

Proposals under consideration include the possibility it could be designated as a Government pilot event for people who are fully vaccinated.

However, planning regulations that require large concerts to secure a licence from local authorities are an obstacle that is yet to be overcome.

Laois County Council said on Wednesday there was no provision in law for it to revisit the application it refused earlier this month.

Minister for Culture Catherine Martin has been pushing for the event to be allowed to proceed as she argued for a wider reopening of the live entertainment sector.

She raised the issue at Friday’s Cabinet sub-committee meeting where Ministers discussed the Government’s roadmap for easing Covid-19 restrictions.

She said before the meeting that all possible options were still being explored, adding: “Obviously there’s a planning issue there as well but I want to see what we can do to facilitate it.”

Separately, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said: “It seems to me it was Laois County Council had the call on it and they seem to be saying that there are certain difficulties.

“If they can be overcome then I’d be very glad to see it happen.”

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said on Tuesday that he would have no concerns about an outdoor event like Electric Picnic taking place if attendance was limited to the fully vaccinated.

Festival Republic has proposed making full vaccination a condition of entry to Electric Picnic and argued that it should be classified as a Government pilot event.

However, other pilot events did not require licences from local authorities either because concerts had crowds of fewer than 5,000 or because they were sports matches that do not fall under the same regime.

Ms Martin said on Friday that she wanted an easing of restrictions for musicians and artists in September.

“At the minute we have silence in our music, I think we’ve had enough of that silence and I want to hear music again,” Ms Martin said.

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times