Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has confirmed that the Department of Health has paused taking bookings at mandatory quarantine hotels.

Mr Donnelly said it was due to a problem with 'walk-ins' or people who simply turn up rather than having booked online before departure.

Speaking on RTÉ's Six One News, he said that on a precautionary basis, his department has paused bookings to ensure there is capacity.

He said there was still a high level of walk-ins and this should not be happening.

The minister said that a number of airlines were allowing some people to board planes when they should not be doing so and Minister Eamon Ryan is engaging with carriers about this.

Mr Donnelly said there will be significant additional capacity from next Monday when room numbers will increase from 650 to around 960.

He said that there will be more than 1,300 rooms available from the following Monday.

Minister Donnelly also said his department hopes to have an updated plan for the vaccination roll-out very shortly following the limits on the use of the AstraZeneca jab and the delay to the roll-out of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

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In a statement this evening, the Department of Health said the decision to temporarily pause the booking portal has been taken as a precautionary measure to enable further assessment of capacity within the mandatory hotel quarantine system for the coming days.

It said those who have already made their booking for mandatory hotel quarantine are not affected.

"Bookings can still be made for dates from Monday 19 April onwards," the statement said.

"The temporary pause will be kept under ongoing review should additional capacity become available.

"The public health advice remains strongly against all non-essential international travel."

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The Department of Transport said this evening that it has reminded airlines to be vigilant with regard to passengers boarding flights without a mandatory quarantine booking.

In a statement, it said carriers must take reasonable steps to inform passengers of their obligations; check mandatory quarantine booking receipt; deny boarding if not satisfied.

But the department said carriers have limited capability to check whether passengers have been in the specified countries in the previous 14 days, unless they are on direct flights from those locations.

"Since the start of the Mandatory Quarantine Facility on 26 March, and prior to the recent announced extension of the specified countries list, there have been direct flights from only three countries," the statement said.