The mandatory hotel quarantine system was necessary to keep out variants of concern, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, has insisted.
It had been his job to ask the tough questions and to ensure the system was legally sound and implementable, he told RTÉ radio’sshow. It was important that “we get this right.”
“We have to take a very cautious approach.”
However, the brother's minister, Patrick Coveney, who is head of food multinational Greencore, has publicly criticised mandatory hotel quarantine comparing it to 'prison.'
"Hard to overstate the incompetence & lack of foresight here. Ireland is now officially shut off from US and most of EU with little hope of being able to safely source the massive levels of hotel ‘prison capacity’ to sustain Mandatory Hotel Quarantine," he tweeted.
The Greencore Group CEO's comment comes just a few days after Simon Coveney was forced into an embarrassing climbdown on his opposition to high-risk countries being added to the quarantine list.
Simon Coveney told theshow that he had spoken to his brother about his comments but declined to reveal what he had said.
However, he did say that Patrick was a "big boy" and that in a democracy everyone had a right to express their point of view.
He did not agree with his businessman brother and felt that mandatory health quarantine was necessary to shield the country from Covid-19.
“We will get benefits from it. Once everyone is vaccinated we will have an entirely different level of protection," he said.
“Mandatory hotel quarantine is temporary, but it is necessary.”
Ireland had spoken to the New Zealand authorities, but Ireland was a very different country with a shared land mass and no control over who travelled into Northern Ireland.
The Government was now considering the position of people who were fully vaccinated and he was hopeful that a decision and readjustment would be ready soon.
The appeals process would also need to be reconsidered especially from a humanitarian approach, he added.
“We are going to have mandatory quarantine for a period of time.”
Other Government departments were helping the Department of Health to ensure mandatory health quarantine worked effectively, but it was appropriate that the Department of Health have the primary responsibility.