Hotel quarantine begins for arrivals from 26 more countries

Gabriel Scally warns against ‘half measures’ on quarantine and calls for wider use

 Defence Forces personnel awaiting flights to escort passengers to their mandatory hotel quarantine at Dublin Airport. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

Defence Forces personnel awaiting flights to escort passengers to their mandatory hotel quarantine at Dublin Airport. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

 

People arriving from 26 more countries, including Israel, Nigeria and Serbia, have to book a space in the State’s hotel quarantine system if they intend to come to the Republic from today.

The rules came into force for 26 new high-risk countries at 4am on Tuesday.

The countries added to the quarantine list are:

Mauritius was removed from the previous list of 33 countries.

People arriving from these countries and 33 already on the list, largely in South America and Africa, have to spend 12 days in one of four designated hotels before they can travel on to their destination.

The quarantine period can be reduced if a passenger returns a negative result when they are tested for Covid-19 after 10 days in the system.

The cost for an adult from a high-risk country is €1,875 for 12 nights, €625 for a second person over the age of 12 who shares the room, and €36 for children aged four to 12.

The quarantine period may be extended if a passenger tests positive during their stay but the State will pay for any extension beyond 12 days.

Last week, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly attempted to include the US, France, Italy and other EU countries on the quarantine list but faced opposition from other Government Ministers, most notably Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney.

To date 351 rooms have been booked by people required to quarantine in the hotel system.

Some 96 travellers, either individuals or families, stayed in quarantine hotel rooms in the last week of March when the requirements came into force.

There were 236 rooms booked in the quarantine facilities for the month of April, and 19 rooms booked so far so May, according to the Department of Health.

It has also emerged seven gardaí who were exposed to a suspected Covid-19 case related to mandatory hotel quarantine will now not have to self-isolate.

The gardaí, who are based in Ballymun, had been advised they would need to self-isolate after a woman in the hotel quarantine system had tested positive for the virus on Monday. However, a second test carried out on Tuesday provided a negative result.

Meanwhile, public health expert Dr Gabriel Scally has warned that there cannot be any “half measures” when it comes to quarantine.

There should be full mandatory hotel quarantine for anyone arriving into Ireland as the virus could be brought into the country by any route, he told Newstalk Breakfast.

Dr Scally, who is Professor of Public Health at University of Bristol, said that the one over-riding principle of public health was keeping the country safe. From a public health point of view there should be mandatory quarantine for people arriving into the country no matter their country of origin. “They could bring it [the virus] in on any route.”

“You can’t half do quarantine measures.”

Dr Scally said he understood the European Commission’s aim to keep borders open, but they did not have the power or responsibility on public health issues, which were the responsibility of individual countries.

Ireland was in a good position because it was an island which put it in an ideal situation to have mandatory quarantine.

When asked about getting the balance right between the economy and public health, Dr Scally questioned whether there was a balance to be struck. He pointed out that countries that had introduced strict quarantine measures were doing very well while countries that had on/off lockdowns had suffered economically.

“The best thing to do is get the virus down and keep it out.”