Leading hotel group Tifco is being paid over €5.4 million for operating the Government's mandatory hotel quarantine system.
Documents published by the Department of Health show the official value of the three-month contract award to the Tifco hotel group to operate the controversial quarantine system for visitors to Ireland is €5,416,290.
The contract is subject to two possible extensions of one month each. In the year to the end of 2019, the last full year of trading before the pandemic hit, Tifco recorded revenues of €36.5 million.
The documents also reveal that a total of 11 different hotel, travel and event management operators made submissions to the department offering to provide quarantine facilities and other services required by the department.
However, the Department of Health ultimately directly negotiated and concluded a contract with Tifco without a formal tendering process after the group had demonstrated it could provide all the necessary services through its own resources or through sub-contractors.
The contract requires Tifco to provide accommodation, transport, security, health and other services to passengers arriving into Ireland from a list of specified countries with high incidence of Covid-19 since March 26, although the system only formally became operational from April 6.
Over 70 countries are currently listed on the Government’s website from which travellers are required to undergo mandatory hotel quarantine.
Under the contract, Tifco is required to provide a central reservation system through an online portal as well as providing full-board accommodation to visitors for up to 14 days.
The group must also provide shuttle services from ports and airports to hotels as well as health assessment and monitoring services which include two Covid-19 PCR tests during a 14-day stay.
Tifco must also arrange up to three supervised breaks daily for each guest in quarantine.
Department of Health documents state that it is anticipated that the cost of the mandatory hotel quarantine system will be “of neutral value” to taxpayers.
Individuals arriving into Ireland and entering mandatory hotel quarantine are required to pay €1,875 with a cost of €625 for each additional adult and children aged 12-17.
The cost for children aged 4-12 is €360, while there is no charge for infants up to 3 years.
The department said it awarded the contract to Tifco outside the normal tendering process which requires high-value State contracts to be advertised in the official journal of the EU because of the “extreme urgency brought about by events unforeseeable”.
It claimed an extremely urgent need to introduce such a system arose in a very short space of time given the daily increasing risk to public health following the emergence of new variants of Covid-19 in certain countries.
The documents also show that the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, intends to conduct a formal procurement competition for any hotel quarantine services that may be required after the expiry of the contract with Tifco.
Tifco is Ireland’s second largest hotel group and operates 24 hotels with over 2,250 guest rooms.
Among its hotels providing hotel quarantine facilities are the Crowne Plaza hotels in Santry and Blanchardstown, Clontarf Castle, the Holiday Inn Express in Santry and the Hard Rock Hotel on Exchange Street.
Following issues with capacity and a shortage of rooms which led to a temporary suspension of the online booking portal after the Government extended the list of countries affected by mandatory hotel quarantine, a number of other hotels are also now providing quarantine facilities.
They include the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel on Golden Lane, the Croke Park Hotel on Jones Road and the Red Cow Moran Hotel on Naas Road.