Ireland’s foreign minister has revealed two more breaches of Covid-19 lockdown rules by US military servicemen on stopovers at Shannon Airport, following an initial complaint two weeks ago that drew an apology from Washington.
Police had investigated two additional separate breaches by US servicemen during their overnight stopovers in addition to one that occurred on January 25 that elicited an apology from officials in Washington, Minister Simon Coveney revealed on Friday.
Earlier this month, Coveney had said 48 military and five crew from a US Navy C40 transport plane en route from Bahrain to the US had stayed at a Limerick hotel after landing at Shannon Airport. They did not provide contact-tracing details or provide negative Covid tests – both of which are legally required under Irish coronavirus measures.
Failing to fill out the locator form could result in a six-month prison term and a fine of €2,500 ($3,000), while failing to provide a valid Covid-19 test carries a €2,500 fine.
On Friday, Coveney confirmed to the Irish parliament that the two other breaches involved a total of 113 servicemen. The first happened on January 11, when 59 US military personnel landed at Shannon and those passengers did not comply with the public health regulation as they did not complete passenger locator forms.
The second incident occurred on January 23, when 54 US personnel landed at the airport and did not present negative PCR tests or complete the locator forms.
Coveney said he had met with the US Embassy in Dublin on February 4 and emphasized that all landings must fully abide by the conditions put in place by the Irish authorities, including public health conditions.
“The US authorities have assured me that they take Irish public health requirements very seriously,” Coveney said. “I have received apologies, both orally and in writing, from the relevant US authorities, including the US military authorities. The US side has recommitted to full compliance in respect of future landings.”
Shannonwatch, an activist group that monitors US military traffic at Shannon, said that more than 71,000 American personnel passed through the airport in 2020, despite Ireland’s traditional neutrality in international conflicts.
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