Covid-19: Mandatory hotel quarantine system could be running in a week

Contract with hotel provider likely to be agreed by mid-week

President Michael D Higgins on Sunday signed into law the Health (Amendment) Act 2021 which will allow the State to require passengers arriving from 20 named countries with a high incidence of Covid-19 to quarantine for 14 days in a designated hotel. File photograph: iStock

President Michael D Higgins on Sunday signed into law the Health (Amendment) Act 2021 which will allow the State to require passengers arriving from 20 named countries with a high incidence of Covid-19 to quarantine for 14 days in a designated hotel. File photograph: iStock

 

Mandatory quarantine for passengers arriving in the State from several countries could be operational within a week following the signing of the required legislation into law.

President Michael D Higgins on Sunday signed into law the Health (Amendment) Act 2021 which will allow the State to require passengers arriving from 20 named countries with a high incidence of Covid-19 to quarantine for 14 days in a designated hotel.

The contract with the hotel provider which will run the service is expected to be signed on Wednesday, paving the way for the system to begin operations within a matter of days.

The City West hotel complex in Dublin, which the Government leased as an emergency facility last year, has been mentioned as the main designated facility, but the Government has not confirmed this.

“The next step in this process is to finalise and sign a contract with a service provider. I anticipate this will happen shortly,” said Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly.

He said the priority now was to make the law operational.

Meanwhile, the North’s First Minister Arlene Foster indicated she would be amenable to the UK providing the Irish Government with any surplus Covid-19 vaccines it had. She said it was an issue the British prime minister Boris Johnson should discuss with Taoiseach Micheál Martin.

However, it is understood the Government is of the view that by the time the UK has spare vaccines in June or July, Ireland is likely to have a surplus as well. It has been pointed out that the UK has a long way to go before excess supplies are available.

Arlene Foster: It would be beneficial both to the North and the Republic if the vaccination programme was “moving at a faster measure” in the South. Photograph: Getty Images
Arlene Foster: It would be beneficial both to the North and the Republic if the vaccination programme was “moving at a faster measure” in the South. Photograph: Getty Images

The Government believes that notwithstanding shortfalls in deliveries of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the overall vaccination process will ramp up significantly next month.

Faster measure

Ms Foster told RTÉ’s This Week programme that it would be beneficial both to Northern Ireland and the Republic if the vaccination programme was “moving at a faster measure” in the South.

Up to 40 per cent of the North’s population has already received at least one dose of the vaccine.

She hoped the vaccine programme in the Republic would “pick up pace” because it was important “that if people are coming and travelling across the Border that they are vaccinated”.

Asked was she considering stopping people crossing the Border, Ms Foster said “unlike the Republic” Northern Ireland had not imposed any such measure.

“We have tried to persuade people to be sensible and not to move between different jurisdictions during the different lockdowns.

“We will want to take advice from our medical experts on all of these issues. It would be my wish and my desire that everyone on the island of Ireland would be vaccinated in the fastest way possible, but unfortunately due to the inflexibility of the European Union that does not seem to be the case.”

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