Newstalk
Newstalk

07.39 20 Apr 2020


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People coming into Ireland may be asked to register where they plan to self-isolate.

The Government is set to decide if it needs to change the rules about international travel into Ireland at a Cabinet meeting later.

It comes after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he was uncomfortable about horticulture workers being flown in to harvest fruit - and ordered a review over the weekend.

Almost 200 fruit pickers flown from Bulgaria for the spring strawberry harvest remain in isolation in north county Dublin.

Fruit company Keelings says they will not start work until two weeks from the date of their arrival.

It hires up to 900 seasonal workers every year, and usually recruits in Eastern Europe - having received just a few dozen applications from people already living in Ireland.

On Friday, Mr Varadkar ordered an urgent review of the situation, with officials due to report back to the Cabinet sub-committee on COVID-19 today.

The country's Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said on Friday that he was not comfortable with the situation.

"It wouldn't really be consistent with the public health advice that we've been giving.

"And I think some of that advice does have implications in relation to travel and for people who are traveling - and we've been very clear and consistent on what that advice is.

"I don't want to be critical of any individual or any individual circumstance.

"I don't know the details of the circumstances - I'm aware of, in general terms, what's been reported in the media".

While Mr Varadkar said: "I share the discomfort expressed by the Chief Medical Officer about the report of a large number of people coming to Ireland earlier this week to work in the horiculture sector.

"We need to keep our airports and ports open so essential goods and essential workers can get in and out of the country and Irish citizens and residents can return home.

"However, we need to keep travel to a minimum and ensure that passengers are interviewed on arrival and that quarantine is observed.

"I have therefore asked for an urgent review of the current rules and procedures to be carried out over the weekend."

Infectious disease specialist with the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Professor Sam McConkey, says the World Health Organisation (WHO) already has guidelines on this.

"One of the criteria that the WHO have put out - of six criteria for loosening the restrictions that we all want to see loosened - is that we control new importations of COVID-19 into the country.

"Clearly there's no point in sort of controlling it in our own country if we've lots of people coming in and bringing it in.

"That defeats the whole purpose of it".

Main image: Aer Lingus and Ryanair planes which have been grounded at Dublin Airport. Photo by: Leon Farrell / RollingNews.ie

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Bulgria Coronavius Covid-19 Keelings Leo Varadkar Professor Sam McConkey Seasonal Workers Travel Restrictions WHO

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