A DANGEROUS LOOPHOLE allowing anyone travelling to the Republic of Ireland from the North to avoid mandatory quarantine rules has been revealed.
Calls for the introduction of mandatory hotel quarantine regulations have been ramped up in recent weeks, and while the legislation will be brought before the Dáil this Thursday, questions have been raised over the efficiency of the proposal.
It's emerged that passengers flying into Northern Ireland, who are then travelling on to the Republic, are given ample opportunity to simply bypass mandatory quarantine measures, even if they've flown in from designated 'high-risk' countries.
Under the Government plans, everyone arriving into ports and airports in Ireland will be met by officials, who will then place them on buses which will transport them to quarantine hotels.
However, anyone flying into Northern Irish airports who then cross into the Republic are expected to voluntarily check themselves in to a designated quarantine hotel "as soon as practicable", as no measures have been set up to ensure they do so.
This presents a very serious problem, some members of the Opposition have argued, due to the fact that arrivals from the 20 designated 'high-risk' countries may simply be allowed to fly into Belfast, and drive south over the border, unchecked, without having to quarantine or isolate at all.
Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane said the new bill "does not go far enough," adding that "all passengers" arriving into the country for non-essential reasons should have to quarantine in hotels.
Others slammed the legislation for only applying to 20 high-risk countries, rather than all countries, with Labour Party TD Duncan Smith arguing that mutant strains of Covid-19 such as the Brazil variant "can come from Barcelona as easy as it can come from Brazil."