Five countries removed from State’s mandatory hotel quarantine list

Bermuda, Iran, Montenegro, Palestine and Serbia have been removed, Donnelly says

A security guard and Defence Forces member at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Santry, a mandatory hotel quarantine centre. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw

A security guard and Defence Forces member at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Santry, a mandatory hotel quarantine centre. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Five countries have been removed from the State’s mandatory hotel quarantine list.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said people departing from Bermuda, Iran, Montenegro, Palestine and Serbia would no longer have to enter hotel quarantine on arrival.

All passengers into Ireland must have a negative pre-departure Covid-19 test and people from countries that are not on the mandatory hotel quarantine list must self-isolate at home for two weeks.

The move comes amid growing optimism over the resumption of more international travel as rapidly increasing rates of vaccination mean more people are protected against serious illness from coronavirus.

The Government is expected to consider plans next week for the revision of mandatory hotel quarantine arrangements as well as moves to ease restrictions on travel.

A spokeswoman for the Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said on Thursday that he and his departmental officials were working with other departments “on plans to open up international travel including aviation”.

“The Minister expects a memo will be brought to Government next week which will set out the next steps in the process, including the likely revision of the mandatory hotel quarantine system, a pathway to lift travel restrictions on those who are vaccinated and plans for the implementation of the EU Digital Green Certificate.”

It is thought likely that this scheme could open up foreign travel to participating countries for Irish citizens by the end of June or possibly mid-July.

Another option being examined is that Irish residents could be allowed to travel to Britain on holiday without restrictions within weeks as part of plans to open a travel bubble between Ireland and Britain.

It is understood that Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin is due next week to present to Government a tourism advisory group’s report that contains a number of recommendations aimed at getting the State ready to restart inbound tourism.

The rationale being considered by the Government for British travel is that from May 17th, non-essential travel between Britain and the North will resume under UK rules in any event. With an open border between the Republic and the North, those visitors would be able to freely travel throughout the island anyway.

Rising numbers

The most recent figures, from the end of this week, show there were 976 people in mandatory hotel quarantine, staying in 873 rooms.

The number of people in quarantine has risen steadily each week. The department says a further 702 rooms are available in eight hotels.

Since the system started in March, 2,310 people have completed mandatory hotel quarantine, staying in 1,953 rooms.

The department’s figures show almost half of these people sought to appeal the rule imposed upon them on their arrival in Ireland.

Of a total of 1,138 appeals, 116 were granted.

Mandatory hotel quarantine was introduced in late March, nine months after public health officials first recommended the measure.

Under the system, anyone travelling into Ireland from one of about 70 countries on a Covid-19 risk list must stay in a designated mandatory hotel for 12 days. States are added to or removed from the list according to the prevalence of the disease and variants of concern in those countries.

Exceptions can be made in certain circumstances, including where the person is fully vaccinated or there are urgent medical reasons. There are also exceptions on compassionate grounds.

The cost per adult is €1,875, with lower rates for children.

More than 120 people in mandatory hotel quarantine have tested positive for Covid-19 since it was introduced, according to new figures.

Of the 127 detected cases, 42 involved a variant of concern, according to the Department of Health.