The booking portal for mandatory hotel quarantine has gone live and is set to cost travellers nearly €1,900 per person for a 12-night stay package, the Department of Health has said.
All passengers arriving into Ireland from an airport or port considered "high risk", or who have been in a "high-risk" country in the 14 days prior to travelling here, will have to quarantine for two weeks at a designated hotel from Friday, March 26th. People arriving from these countries must pre-pay for their stay before coming to Ireland, the Government said on Tuesday.
Passengers under mandatory quarantine will stay at the Crowne Plaza Dublin Airport Hotel in Santry with a 12-night standard rate inclusive of all services costing €1,875 per person. The additional rate for another adult or child over 12 sharing is €625 while children between 4-12 will be charged €360 for the 12-day package, according to details published on Tuesday morning. There is no cost for children aged 0-3 years staying with family during the hotel quarantine period.
The Government has also publicised a €150 day rate for adults arriving from “non-designated” countries but who have not taken a pre-departure PCR test.
Guests will be provided with full-board accommodation during their stay while the Tifco Hotel group, which has been appointed as the service provider overseeing mandatory hotel quarantine, will also provide ground and security services and health and wellbeing services for travellers, according to a Government statement.
Guests will have access to an outdoor area for exercise and mobility but must pre-book access to the facility. The Dublin airport hotel will be exclusively used for travellers completing their mandatory quarantine and staff have received updated training in line with HSE Covid-19 infection prevention, it said.
The department noted that all passengers travelling to Ireland from “high-risk” countries, including those who have transited through a port or airport in one of these countries, must complete the 14-day mandatory hotel quarantine period regardless of nationality.
This list of high-risk countries includes all South American nations, many African states along with Austria and the United Arab Emirates. People arriving into Ireland seeking asylum will not be required to pay for mandatory quarantine but will complete their quarantine at an "appropriate facility" arranged by the Department of Children and Equality, according to the statement.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said the purpose of the mandatory hotel quarantine was to “act as a deterrent” and protect against the spread of variants of the virus and noted that there had been an 80 per cent fall in arrivals into the UK from countries which require mandatory quarantine upon arrival.
He said the defence forces would hold a “supervisory role” at the hotel and would be at the airport to escort people onto the bus.The Tifco hotel group will have a licensed security contractor at each hotel while an Garda Síochána will be available if anti-social behaviour or disruptions escalate, said the department.
Gardaí risk becoming “super spreaders” if they’re called to deal with a dispute at a mandatory quarantine hotel and then return to their duties in the community, the general secretary of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) has said.
Antoinette Cunningham warned that gardaí had yet to receive operational instructions on how they would be expected to police anti-social behaviour or disturbances at hotels being used for mandatory quarantine. Ms Cunningham told RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne show that it was unacceptable to ask gardaí to put themselves at risk of exposure to the virus when it remains uncertain when they will receive the vaccine.
Ms Cunningham also questioned when a risk assessment of gardaí’s role in policing the pandemic was going to be completed. “People need to have faith in the gardaí that they will not be bringing Covid-19 into their homes,” she said, adding that policing was getting more difficult and more dangerous.
‘Piece of theatre’
The Government’s new mandatory quarantine regime is a “piece of theatre” and will result in very few passengers entering the designated hotels, opposition parties have warned today.
People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy said that he estimated that only 10 per cent of incoming travellers will be subjected to mandatory quarantine.
“The Government wants to create the impression that they are actually implementing mandatory quarantine but the truth is they are implementing for a very small percentage of all incoming travellers and that is simply not good enough,” Mr Murphy said.
“Let’s say you’re on a flight from Frankfurt… you may be on the flight with someone from Brazil, South Africa, you may be on a flight with people who are travelling from the 33 (high risk) countries, but when you arrive in Ireland they undergo quarantine, stay on the plane, and you are gone at home supposedly quarantining but there is no supervision of that.”
Mr Murphy also said that outsourcing quarantine to private operators has led to problems in places like Australia and he called for the regime to be run under the public health system.
Labour Party leader Alan Kelly said there are “so many ways” in which a person could potentially avoid the quarantine regime and said “this is not going to have a huge impact”.
He said the Government has in recent days “lost the dressing room” when it comes to Covid-19.
Mr Donnelly will outline further details about how the mandatory quarantine facilities will work later this afternoon.