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Question mark over hotel quarantine as Ireland drops policy

The end of hotel quarantine appears likely as the government reportedly faces pressure to follow Ireland’s decision to abandon the policy.

Ireland announced on Saturday that it was removing the final six countries from its red list and freeing the last 50 travellers from the self-isolation in hotels from Sunday.

The Daily Telegraph reported that the Department for Transport is understood to back the move which would end the requirement for travellers from red-list countries to self-isolate in government-approved hotels at a cost of up to £2,285 per person.

The Irish government’s decision was made on the advice of its chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan on the basis that the dominance of the delta variant meant hotel quarantine was no longer need to contain other variants of concern.

The UK has more countries on its red list than any other EU nations at 54 and is one of the few nations still to have hotel quarantine alongside Australia and New Zealand, both of which have far lower rates of vaccination than the UK.

The DfT thought to be is pressing for the change provided the latest moves to ease travel restrictions do not spark a spike in Covid infections.

PCR testing for fully jabbed travellers is due to be replaced by lateral flow tests by half-term, while pre-departure tests for the vaccinated are being axed from October 4.

Hotel quarantine is run by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) which has taken a more pro-economy stance on Covid restrictions since Sajid Javid replaced Matt Hancock as health secretary.

Eight countries were removed from the red list last week including Turkey, Pakistan Bangladesh, Egypt, Kenya, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Oman.

A DHSC spokesman said: “We are committed to protecting our country and the progress of our phenomenal vaccine rollout against the risk of new coronavirus variants and there are no plans to end the Managed Quarantine Service.

“We have taken decisive action at the border with our managed quarantine system and every essential check we’ve introduced has strengthened our defences.”

“We recently simplified the travel rules to make them easier to understand and follow, opening up tourism and reducing the costs to go abroad.”

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