‘I’m expected to bury my father and then spend two weeks alone in a hotel room’

Irelands mandatory hotel quarantine system is too restrictive, unnecessarily harsh and is preventing people from travelling for exceptional reasons, the French ambassador to Ireland has said.
Vincent Guérend said the French embassy had received large numbers of desperate calls in recent weeks from Irelands French community, many of whom need to travel to France for medical reasons including cancer and cardiac care.
The ambassador told RTÉs Morning Ireland that mandatory hotel quarantine was preventing those who need to commute between Ireland and France from travelling. There are between 25,000-30,000 French nationals living in Ireland, he said.
Were not speaking for normal travel, its not business as usual, people go for really compelling reasons, for severe medical treatment, for cancer, for heart disease and we believe the mandatory hotel quarantine prevents almost all travelling and that the exception mechanism is really insufficient.
Mr Guérand called for the measures to be lifted within weeks rather than months to allow more exceptional cases to travel.
Ireland is currently the only EU member state with such extensive quarantine measures for travellers from other EU countries. Last month, the European Commission told the Government that national public health interests could be protected with less restrictive measures and that clear and operational exceptions for essential travel should be ensured while the measures remain in place. The Government is due to respond to concerns laid out by the commission regarding mandatory quarantine later on Wednesday.
There are more than 70 countries on the Governments red travel list for mandatory hotel quarantine including EU nations France, Italy, Belgium, Austria and Luxembourg.
Also speaking on RTÉ radio, a French national living in Ireland with his wife and four children spoke of how his father, who has cancer, is expected to die in the coming days.
Im expected to bury my father and then spend two weeks alone in a hotel room, he said. I am also concerned that you cant appeal before arrival. Its very stressful, I really think its inhuman.
Meanwhile, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly is still considering proposed changes to the national immunisation plan through consultations with the chief medical officer and the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac). The HSE submitted the plan to Government on Monday, which sticks to the age-based approach favoured by Government but envisages AstraZeneca and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines being offered to the under 50s.
Niac currently recommends these vaccines should only be offered to the over 50s, but does allow for some exceptions.
From today, people aged 58 years can register for vaccination while the HSE has said it expects to vaccinate a further 220,000-240,000 people by the end of this week.
As of Sunday, May 2nd, 445,561 people were fully vaccinated and had received both vaccine doses. Some 1,159,083 people (26.9 per cent of the population over 16) have received their first dose of the vaccine.
Ireland has approved the investment of almost 191 million in vaccines for booster shots and campaigns in the future, including plans to purchase 4.9 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine in 2022 and the same again in 2023.
The Government said it is likely boosters will be needed for a very high proportion of the population to combat variants and deal with waning immunity. Jabs will also likely be extended to under-16s.
The cabinet was told there are currently 860 trained and available vaccinators, with 450 needed in May. Thirty of 38 vaccination centres are now up and running, with the remainder due to open by May 10th.
There were 132 Covid-19 patients in hospital on Tuesday evening, down from 144 on Tuesday morning and 153 a week ago. There were 250 Covid-19 patients in hospital this day one month ago.
There were 39 people in ICU on Tuesday evening including 25 on ventilators.
Two Covid-19 deaths were recorded on Tuesday evening bringing to 4,908 the total number of people who have died from the virus since the pandemic began. A further 383 positive cases were reported with 79 per cent under the age of 45. This brings to 250,672 the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases since March of last year.
Some 129 of these cases were in Dublin, 40 in Kildare, 32 in Meath, 25 in Donegal and 25 in Louth.
The national 14 day incidence rate is currently 134.1 per 100,000 people. This compares to incidence rates of 306.5 in Donegal, 266. 1 in Kildare, 207.3 in Westmeath, 189.8 in Dublin, 167.3 in Tipperary and 159.1 in Offaly.
Counties Kilkenny, Wexford and Kerry currently have the lowest Covid-19 incidence rate in the State.