DUBLIN- Ireland's main business lobby called on Wednesday for an urgent change to COVID-19 isolation rules, saying almost 20% of the country's factory workers were unable to go to work largely as a result of being a close contact of a confirmed case.
The Irish government has asked health chiefs to review the rules which currently force close contacts who have not received a coronavirus booster vaccine to stay at home for 10 days, with boosted workers required to isolate for five days.
"We're seeing this everywhere at the moment, it's right around the country and it's through all sectors of the economy," the Irish Business and Employers Confederation's director of member services Sharon Higgins told national broadcaster RTE.
Retail groups have also said many shops are operating with a skeleton staff or closing some branches, while the rules are hitting hospitals, curtailing some public transports routes and likely to impact schools when they reopen on Thursday.
"We believe that about three times the number of people are staying out of work (in manufacturing) because they are close contacts than those who are actually symptomatic or have COVID... Revising those close contact situations can alleviate all of these concerns quite quickly," Higgins added.
Ireland has the highest booster uptake in the European Union, with 57% of all adults boosted, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
However, it has one of the highest EU infection rates after cases hit record levels in the past two weeks.
(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Alexander Smith) ((firstname.lastname@example.org; +353 1 500 1504; Reuters Messaging: email@example.com))