The European Commission has contacted Irish authorities over concerns that mandatory hotel quarantine goes against EU law.
The news comes after five EU member states were added to the ‘red list’, meaning arrivals to enter mandatory hotel quarantine at a cost of €1,875 for 12 nights.
Austria, Belgium, France, Luxembourg and Italy are now affected by the law.
“The Commission is looking into these measures as there are some concerns in relation to the general principles of EU law, in particular proportionality and non-discrimination,” a Commission spokesman said.
“We are in contact with the Irish authorities and will ask them for clarifications on this matter and the criteria used to determine the designated countries.”
The EU Commission’s concerns are over why the five countries were selected over others.
The five countries that have been added to the list do not have the highest rates of infection, according to the chart of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
It shows that Poland, Sweden and the Netherlands are worse or similarly affected.
“While quarantine and testing requirements are a national competence, nevertheless, when affecting citizens’ rights to free movement, such measures have to comply with general principles of EU law,” the Commission spokesman said.
The five countries have grouped together in questioning the measures.
Italian ambassador to Ireland Paolo Serpi called it “discriminatory” and called for the immediate cancellation of the policy.
Speaking on Thursday night, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said he will “make no apologies” to the European Commission or Italian ambassador to Ireland for introducing mandatory hotel quarantine.
He said mandatory hotel quarantine “is a very important public health measure and ensures we continue to have the strongest border biosecurity measures in Europe”.
“Our system of mandatory hotel quarantine is working as intended to protect the country from the importation of Covid-19, particularly variants of concern.”
“To date, 18 people in mandatory hotel quarantine have tested positive for Covid-19, of which four involve probable variants of concern. I am very grateful to those that have entered mandatory quarantine and for playing their part to stop the spread of this disease,” Mr Donnelly added.