22nd Mar 2021
Nephet has been calling for a mandatory hotel quartine since May of last year but Cabinet finally approved the proposal last month, with President Higgins signing it into law last week. So what will it entail and how much will it cost?
Who needs to quarantine?
As soon as this Thursday, all arriving passengers travelling from 33 countries will be required to self-isolate in one of the allocated hotels for two weeks, regardless of a negative PCR test.
These countries are Argentina, Angola, Austria, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Democratic Rep. of Congo, Ecuador, Eswatini, French Guiana, Guyana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Paraguay, South Africa, Rwanda, Tanzania, Panama, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, Venezuela, Seychelles, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Zambia and Zimbabwe.
People travelling from these countries are already required to quarantine for the full 14 days regardless of a negative test result and they must enter their quarantine location on the passenger locator form. However, this quarantine will become much more stringent with arrivals escorted from the airport to a security bus, which will drop them at their assigned hotel for check-in procedures. Refusal to do so will result in hefty fines.
This isn’t just for passengers whose journey originated in these countries either. Anyone who passes through a port or airport in one of the listed countries will also be required quarantine, which will impact anyone flying through international hubs like Dubai.
These countries are considered high-risk, either due to a specific strain, as in the case of South Africa, or the country’s high Covid infection rate. Brazil and South Africa were the first added to the high-risk list and further 31 countries added since. The list can also be updated at any time and all essential travellers are advised to check with their airlines before travel.
The Irish Independent is reporting that some members of Nephet originally wanted to enforce hotel quarantine for all incoming passengers regardless of their journey origin. However, the mandatory quarantine is to be kept to just those 33 countries for the moment, with the potential to expand that list.
“It does involve very significant interference with civil liberties, but it is for the greater good”@mmcgrathtd says hotel quarantine measures will come into effect in Ireland by the end of the coming week | More: https://t.co/ZLpXs8BTID pic.twitter.com/QbnDfOZVID
— RTÉ News (@rtenews) March 21, 2021
The Tifco Hotel Group have won the contract for the mandatory quarantine. They own 24 hotels with more than 2,550 rooms available but it is expected that four hotels, Crowne Plaza and the Holiday Inn Express next to Dublin Airport and Travelodge Hotels at both Dublin and Cork airports will be used in the initial stages.
Costs are expected to be in the region of €2,000 per person and include transport to the hotel, testing, accommodation and food for the two-week period. An online booking system is due to launch in the coming days with the first mandatory quarantine passengers arriving as soon as this Thursday. Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly is expected to outline the complete operational details in a day or two.