Travellers to Ireland from more European Union countries will be subjected to mandatory hotel quarantine in the coming days in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19 variants, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said on Thursday.
The government last week added 26 countries to the list of arrivals who must spend up to 14 days in a hotel room but stopped short of a recommendation by health officials to include the United States, Germany, Italy and France, countries where large numbers of Irish nationals live.
"What this is about is ensuring that when we - because I think it's when, not if we extend the list of countries and that is going to include more EU countries - that we are ready for that and can deal with the capacity issues that are undoubtedly going to flow from it," Coveney told national broadcaster RTE.
Elsewhere, a surge in new orders from home and abroad spurred the sharpest rate of growth in Irish services activity since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March, while most of the sector remained in lockdown, a business survey showed on Wednesday.
Business expectations among services firms nevertheless hit a 33-month high as the AIB IHS Markit Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) jumped to 54.6 from 41.2 in February, crossing the 50-mark separating expansion from contraction for the fourth time since February 2020.
The increase was driven by a similarly sharp rise in new business. Exports rose for the first time since February 2020 as firms reported stronger sales to the United States and Europe, and the resumption of UK business following a pause at the start of 2021.
"This pick-up in new business resulted in a rise in the volume of outstanding work and saw employment expand for only the second time since the start of the pandemic," AIB Chief Economist Oliver Mangan said.
"This signals improved business conditions in the sector rather than activity returning to more normal levels (as) ... much of the sector remains in lockdown." [Photo Douglas O’Connor/Flickr]