Simon Harris: Forcing fully vaccinated people to hotel quarantine is 'illogical'

There are currently 16 countries on Ireland's hotel quarantining list
Simon Harris: Forcing fully vaccinated people to hotel quarantine is 'illogical'

Simon Harris said it 'seems illogical' to make fully vaccinated people with negative PCR tests quarantine in a hotel.

Higher Education Minister Simon Harris has said it was his “very firm view” that people who were fully vaccinated and had negative PCR tests should not have to quarantine in a hotel.

To force them to do so “seems illogical”, he said, adding that mandatory hotel quarantine was a “short, sharp, blunt instrument”. 

Mr Harris said the Government was committed to discussing with health experts the necessity for people who were fully vaccinated to go into hotel quarantine.

This comes as a fully vaccinated healthcare worker who was travelling from Israel for work said the quarantine system made no sense and was "absurd."

Inbar Aviezer was finally released from quarantine after failed appeal attempts to leave earlier, despite arriving at Dublin Airport on April 7 from Israel via Frankfurt, Germany, with a negative PCR test and the recipient of two Pfizer vaccine doses.

Derek Jennings, who is also fully vaccinated and travelling back from Israel, was recently released from mandatory hotel quarantine to care for his dying father. He said a more "common sense" approach to the system was needed.

Derek Jennings, from Clondalkin, is greeted by his daughter Hannah (left) and wife Lisa as he departs the Crowne Plaza hotel, Santry, near Dublin Airport, having been released from mandatory hotel quarantine on humanitarian grounds after an appeal to the High Court. Mr Jennings, who is fully vaccinated and had two appeals for his release rejected, returned from Israel to be with his dying father. Picture: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Derek Jennings, from Clondalkin, is greeted by his daughter Hannah (left) and wife Lisa as he departs the Crowne Plaza hotel, Santry, near Dublin Airport, having been released from mandatory hotel quarantine on humanitarian grounds after an appeal to the High Court. Mr Jennings, who is fully vaccinated and had two appeals for his release rejected, returned from Israel to be with his dying father. Picture: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Two appeals by Mr Jennings against the requirement to quarantine were denied.

“In my case, I appealed on humanitarian, compassionate grounds. I was refused twice.

“If my situation is not humanitarian or compassionate, I don’t know what is,” he said.

There are currently 16 countries on Ireland's hotel quarantining list including France, Italy, the US, and Canada, which were added on Friday, April 9.

AstraZeneca restricted to over 60s 

When asked about Niac’s decision to pause the use of AstraZeneca for people under the age of 60, Mr Harris said he was not qualified to “second guess” Niac, but that there was no getting away from the fact that the decision will cause upheaval.

However, he was encouraged by comments from the acting CMO Dr Ronan Glynn and Prof Karina Butler of Niac, that the decision will not have an impact on the long-term rollout of the vaccine.

It was always important that concerns be acted upon and that the caution exercised by Niac should give people confidence.

If AstraZeneca has been the only vaccine available, the decision to pause would not have been made, he said.

“We have to use the supply we have to best effect,” he told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show.

The minister was “really excited” about the introduction of rapid antigen testing in a pilot scheme in a number of universities. It was his intention to “dramatically increase” the on-campus attendance of third-level students from the new academic year commencing in September/October.

Rapid testing was a “potential game changer” and could lead to outdoor gatherings. It made sense for his department to be involved as research was also part of his brief. The results could benefit the whole country, he added.

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