Experts are expressing their concerns about the possibility that the Irish government’s new quarantine system will come under serious pressure as fruit and vegetable pickers are being brought in in the coming season. Irish growers rely on 3,000 - 4,000 seasonal workers from Europe to harvest Irish fruit and vegetable crops.
There have been calls for Ireland to source more domestic workers, but of the 900 advertised jobs, only 40 could be filled by Irish applicants last year.
The issue was raised by Sinn Féin TD Chris Andrews, who asked what measures ‘have been taken in relation to a repeat of the arrival of large volumes of seasonal workers into Ireland in the coming weeks given the quarantine process and public health guidelines for incoming travellers and workers’.
Andrews also asked Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly if visitors for seasonal work ‘will be required to undertake mandatory quarantining’. Donnelly responded: ‘Under the current regulations, only specific categories of travellers are exempt from completing mandatory testing and quarantine requirements. There are currently no exemptions provided for seasonal agricultural workers.’
Instead, he warned: ‘Under the current travel measures, passengers arriving from overseas, including via Northern Ireland, are required to present a Covid-19 Passenger Locator Form and produce evidence of a negative RT-PCR test taken within 72 hours of travel.’
According to extra.ie, one source noted: ‘It will be interesting to see how the quarantine system deals with thousands of fruit and vegetable pickers.’
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