A Delta Airlines flight arriving at Dublin Airport. RollingNews.ie photo.
By Anthony Neeson
The U.S. State Department has revised its travel advisory for Ireland from "Reconsider Travel" to "Do Not Travel" - this even though the number of people in Irish hospitals with Covid-19 is this week at the lowest level since October of last year.
The advisory from the State Department is just that. It is not a bar on travel to Ireland. Airlines are flying from the U.S. to Dublin though, in one instance last week, an arriving U.S. aircraft was completely devoid of passengers.
The State Department also posted a broad range of other countries on its new do not travel advisory list including the UK.
Meantime, those who are arriving in Ireland from the U.S. are subject to current quarantine rules.
The new hospital figures, meanwhile, come as registration has begun for people in the Republic aged 65-69 to be vaccinated. Twenty-six vaccination centers will open across the 26 counties by the end of this week.
The Irish Times has reported that people under 30 may get vaccinated before the 30-50 age group once those in their 60s have been vaccinated, this because it is feared there will be a spike in cases among younger people once lockdown is lifted.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said: “I’ve asked the department to assess the case of vaccinating younger cohorts earlier, on the basis of reducing overall transmission as quickly as possible."
Next week, the Irish government will announce which restrictions are to be lifted in the month of May.
Meanwhile, as of last Friday, April 16, eighteen people who entered Mandatory Hotel Quarantine tested positive for Covid 19, with four probably "Variants of Concern."
Minister Donnelly said his department continues to work with all State stakeholders and with the Tifco Hotel Group on the policy, with the shared aim of protecting Ireland from the importation of Covid-19, and particularly variants of the virus.
Said Donnelly: “It is worth restating that mandatory hotel quarantine is not simply about hotel rooms, it is a complex and collaborative system, requiring support across government from a range of key State stakeholders, such as the Defence Forces, the Department of Justice, as well as immigration officials to process passengers at the ports of entry as per agreed protocols, alongside Revenue Customs officials, and An Garda Síochána to respond to any incidents, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Transport, the Department of Defence, the Department of the Taoiseach, the Health Service Executive, and all those who work in our ports and airports around Ireland."
Minister Donnelly continued: “Alongside the very many dedicated staff in Tifco Hotel Group, we are all working to ensure that those who enter mandatory hotel quarantine are comfortable and secure as they comply with the public health advice for all of our benefit.
“The operation of each designated facility is supported by trained Tifco hotel staff, medical personnel, and security guards, as well as the State Liaison Officer, who continue to increase their staffing numbers at each hotel.”
Meanwhile, the European Union has raised concerns with Ireland over whether mandatory hotel quarantine is in line with EU law for EU citizens traveling within the bloc.
An EU Commission spokesperson said: “The Commission is looking into these measures as there are some concerns in relation to the general principles of EU law, in particular proportionality and non-discrimination.”