THE IRISH Government is to discuss harsher restrictions on travellers arriving into Ireland from Britain as the Delta variant continues to spread exponentially in the UK.
Currently, passengers arriving into Ireland from Britain must quarantine at home for 10 days, reduced to 5 days if they receive a negative PCR test at that time.
There had been some hope that a travel bubble would be introduced, which would allow quarantine-free travel between both countries-- a major positive for the thousands of Irish immigrants in Britain and their families at home, some of whom have not seen each other since before the pandemic began.
But while the UK's vaccination programme has seen 80% of adults receive at least one dose, and half of the adult population fully vaccinated, the spread of the Delta variant first detected in India is causing concern.
The variant is 60% more transmissible than the B117 Kent variant, also known as the Alpha variant, and has become the dominant strain, causing a spike in cases and forcing the planned 21 June reopening back at least one month to 19 July.
The Delta strain is slightly more likely to give people severe disease and land them in hospital, however the vaccines do work against it.
According to RTÉ News, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said a longer quarantine period for unvaccinated passengers from Britain could be among the measures taken to stop the Delta variant from taking root in Ireland.
While the Government hopes to protect the Common Travel Area, "we need to go what we can to protect people here", Mr Coveney said.
A 14-day quarantine is among the measures being discussed by the Government, however there are calls from some TDs to go even further, with Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy stating Mandatory Hotel Quarantine should be introduced for passengers arriving from Britain.
This would be required for only a short time, he said, and would help Ireland's vaccination programme protect more people before the Delta variant takes hold.