People who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 may be allowed to skip hotel quarantine if a digital vaccine certification is introduced, the Transport Minister has said.
It comes as an Irish man returning from Israel, who was fully-vaccinated against coronavirus, and an Israeli healthcare worker, also fully-vaccinated against Covid-19 challenged the lawfulness of their detention in mandatory hotel quarantine.
Speaking toearlier, Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said even fully vaccinated people must undergo quarantine as public health officials are concerned that they may still be able to pass on the virus.
“There’s still some concern with the health authorities that even post-vaccination, people may be transmissible, so they are cautious around that," he said.
However, he said as Europe adapts "potentially a digital certificate in terms of whether someone is vaccinated, that might be another variation in terms of how [mandatory quarantine] is applied."
He added that such a process is not in place internationally yet "and that does need to be there.”
Mr Ryan stressed that the mandatory quarantine list “is not fixed,” citing Israel as an example.
The country is to be removed from the list due to its successful vaccination programme which seems to be delivering a significant reduction in transmission of the virus, he said.
Mr Ryan added that mandatory hotel quarantine was not “foolproof” but part of a number of measures taken in the battle against Covid.
"Hotel quarantine is a useful way of adding additional protection but it's not fool-proof, we still have an open border with Northern Ireland, we're not going to be able to close that border.
"It's not as if this on its own is going to be the key measure to protect us, we still have domestic transmission, we still have 400 or 500 cases a day.
"There's been about ten cases from those 400 or 500 cases from people who have come in [from abroad] to date who have been positive.
“But actually we still have significant clusters within our own state, so this is a multi-layered approach.”