Fully vaccinated people should not have to undergo any quarantine if they arrive in Ireland from abroad, Higher Education Minister Simon Harris has suggested.
It would be prudent and sensible, he said, that public health officials would review the situation whereby both vaccinated and non-vaccinated people have to isolate for at least five days.
“And I'm just wondering, is there not a benefit to being vaccinated, that should at least be able to less than that time, or perhaps not require you to,” he said.
“We must be near to the point that when it comes to somebody who is fully vaccinated against Covid-19 that there has to be a benefit to that in terms of the isolation rules,” he added.
“I made the point that if you're fully vaccinated, why are we sending people to mandatory hotel quarantine. I'm now asking the question as we learn more about the vaccine, the benefit of the vaccine, is it now time to begin to review the rules around fully vaccinated people,” Mr Harris said.
Speaking as the Government tightened the rules for travellers arriving in from Britain, Mr Harris defended the Government’s record in terms of the decision it has taken in restricting aviation travel.
Mr Harris said the country is moving toward adopting the European Digital Cert on July 19 and said the Government has to be mindful of what happened in December when the UK variant arrived into Ireland and there was a large spike in Covid-19 cases.
Mr Harris defended the €915 million spend on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) by the Government last year as part of the response to Covid-19.
If there was any attempt to rewrite history he would resist that as people need to remember this was an emergency scenario and the HSE did “heroic work” in order to secure the PPE in order to protect frontline nurses and doctors.
“They did a brilliant job and every single cent of expenditure that they spent was spent in good faith, to save lives and I support them fully in the efforts they made,” he said.
On the Mica issue, Mr Harris said the Government realises that it needs to do more for the people affected but it “will take some time”.
“I'm conscious as a member of the last governments that we introduced. I think it was last January, the original scheme for defective blocks which, which was a 90% scheme if you like. And I'm conscious that that was largely accepted by people at the time,” he said.
“We've got to be realistic, we've got to be compassionate, we've got to understand that a lot of people then went, went back and said well what does that mean for me. And they found bridging this gap from 90% to 100% to be too difficult.” “Perhaps they've lost their job during Covid-19, perhaps they've realised that there's a lot of upfront costs. So there's a full recognition in government, that there's a need to improve the scheme, and that is going to take a little bit of time,” Mr Harris said.