DUBLIN, January 26 (Reuters) – Ireland will impose a 14-day hotel quarantine for everyone arriving from Brazil and South Africa, and for anyone arriving without evidence of a negative coronavirus test, the government said on Tuesday.
Visa-free travel from both countries and from across South America has been suspended until March 5, said Prime Minister Micheal Martin.
The ministers signed the measures, aimed at stopping more infectious variants from entering Ireland, while extending the national lockdown to March 5. The quarantine period – 14 days – was announced later at a press conference.
Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Monday that the easing of the restrictions, which will eventually be implemented, will be very slow.
Covid-19 cases have started to decline sharply since rising at the fastest rate in Europe earlier in the year, following a four-week easing of restrictions and an increase in the prevalence of the more infectious variant that was first detected in the UK.
Ireland reported three cases of the South African variant earlier this month, which health officials said had been contained. No cases of the Brazilian variant were found.
The government says it will take several weeks to implement the system. Under the previously announced measures, anyone flying to Ireland must show that they have a negative / undetectable COVID-19 test from 72 hours prior.
Varadkar also said that although the government did not rule out expanding a hotel quarantine for all arrivals, as requested by most opposition politicians, it would not be entirely effective due to different rules across the open border in British-run Northern Ireland.
It will also create problems around the supply chain, he added.
Britain will announce on Tuesday evening whether it will carry out mandatory hotel quarantines for some or all arrivals. (Reporting by Padraic Halpin and Conor Humphries, Edited by Timothy Heritage)
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