The Government has tightened restrictions around international travel as part of measures seeking to tackle Covid-19.

People travelling into the country without a negative Covid-19 test, along with arrivals from Brazil and South Africa, are to face a mandatory quarantine period in a hotel of up to 14 days.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that anyone entering the State from overseas, with some exceptions, are now legally required to quarantine for the first time.

Mr Varadkar said some of this quarantining will be done in hotels, some in people's homes.

But he conceded that parts of the new system would take several weeks to become operational.

Legislation will be needed to underpin the move to hold Irish and EU citizens without a negative Covid test in hotels.

It has also been confirmed that those returning from overseas to the State via Northern Ireland will be subject to the same legal requirements.

Fines for those outside the 5km travel limit who are intending to travel abroad will be increased from the current €100.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald accused the Government of opting for what she called "half measures" in respect of quarantine and international travel.

Speaking on RTÉ's Six One this evening, Ms McDonald said people needed to hear a more reassuring set of actions from Government today.

Ms McDonald said the idea that it would be left to an individual's best discretion to quarantine at home is crazy.

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The right thing, she said, would have been the announcement of a universal mandatory quarantine.

She said this would have communicated to the population on the whole island, and to anyone considering travel to Ireland, that the Government means business.

Ms McDonald also said it is a "matter of disgrace that we don't have an all-island approach".

Labour party leader Alan Kelly questioned how gardaí can make sure that people will be quarantining at home.

He told RTÉ's Prime Time that the government's plan is "half baked" and there needs to be "hotel quarantine and PCR tests on arrival after five days" and again after quarantine.

"It is the only way to deal with this." 

He questioned the decision for stricter quarantine for those coming in from Brazil and South Africa saying the new variants are "on tour".

"We are as likely to get somebody coming in spreading that variant from Lanzarote, Lisbon or London as we are from Brazil or South Africa." 

He is calling for the government to implement stronger measures. "We should be doing it now. It is a missed opportunity." 

Reacting to the possibility that some people won't be able to come home because of the new measures, he said he lost his mother-in-law in the last few days and some of her loved ones couldn't come home for her funeral.

He said now is the time to "get ahead of this" stating quarantining is part of this as well as checks at airport and improving testing and tracing along with border checks, which he has recommended. 

He said short-termism has not worked. 

Deputy Kelly believes what Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said last night "frightened" people regarding his view that some Covid measures need to be in place for a year. 

He believes at this juncture it is about going strongly with a suppression strategy and giving people hope.

Otherwise, he fears the public are facing into a trajectory that they faced last year. 

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said all the measures agreed by Cabinet today are there to deter people and are about stressing that people should not be travelling unless it is absolutely necessary.

Speaking earlier on RTÉ's Six One, Ms McEntee said people should not be travelling and if they are doing so they need to fit into a very clear set of criteria and if they do not comply, there will be repercussions.

Ms McEntee said there will be a system in place and the details are still being worked through but the gardaí will be able to call to people's homes and if somebody is found to be not quarantining, they will face a fine of up to €2,500 or six months in prison.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has said he believes increasing the fines for those breaching travel restrictions along with mandatory negative PCR tests will lead to a significant fall in the numbers travelling.

He also said he did not know that certain travel was still happening into the country, such as a group of Spanish school students filmed arriving into Dublin Airport last night in an RTÉ Prime Time report.

On RTÉ's Prime Time Mr Ryan said he does not think this type of travel is right and said they would be changing the definition around essential travel.

"I believe we need to be really tight as to what defines essential travel." 

He said this is not a time to be going on holiday.

He said one of the big changes being put in place today is that from this week mandatory quarantine is now required for those coming in from abroad, whether it is home or in a hotel.

He defended it being an advisory measure up until now and said for the most part they have been able to get the Covid numbers down as members of the public have been self-policing.

However, he said the new variant is one of the reasons for the requirement for additional measures. 

He said he believes that gardaí can police the mandatory quarantine and use their "discretion" and their "powers" adding that it will also require legislation being brought in.

A number of other opposition parties have also claimed that the latest Covid-19 restrictions do not go far enough and that only a 14-day mandatory quarantine regime for all incoming passengers will be effective.

People-Before-Profit TD Richard Boyd-Barrett said the Government is not doing enough, and said non-essential work is still continuing. He reiterated his party's call for a zero-Covid strategy.

RISE TD Paul Murphy described quarantine proposals for passengers from Brazil and South Africa as "far too little'' and "too late".

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Mr Murphy said this quarantine would apply to a tiny percentage of incoming travellers. In relation to the remaining travellers, he said that NPHET's advice 12 days ago, was that the mandatory negative PCR test would miss up to 40% of cases coming into the country.

He called for mandatory 14-day quarantine for everyone entering the country, and said those travelling for essential reasons should quarantine in State provided facilities.

"It's very clear that the Government's Living with Covid's Strategy, which they announced last September, is a complete failure," he said.

The Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy also criticised the measures, saying that they do not go far enough.

She called for further co-operation between Northern Ireland and the Republic and said that pursuing a "zero-Covid" strategy made sense, even if the disease is not totally eradicated.

"It gives you a chance to really fight this virus and chase it," she said.