Irish family shocked by ‘appalling’ conditions in hotel quarantine moved to larger rooms

Family-of-five fail in appeal against 12-day stay after spending 45 minutes in Dubai

An Irish family of five are spending 12 days in quarantine in the Crowne Plaza Hotel near Dublin Airport after moving home from Australia. Video: Michelle O’Dowd

 

An Irish family who described their mandatory hotel quarantine as “appalling” have been moved to larger rooms.

Michelle O’Dowd and her husband Ciaran O’Reilly and their three children, Muireann (14), Saoirse (10) and Cadhla, who is nine today, will spend 12 days in quarantine in the Crowne Plaza Hotel near Dublin Airport.

Ms O’Dowd were moved after complaining that their interconnecting hotel rooms were “absolutely tiny” with no place to eat or exercise.

The family were moved on Saturday night after their second appeal against having to quarantine was turned down.

Mr O’Reilly returned a negative test for Covid-19 on Saturday evening, but both Ms O’ Dowd and the children have not got their results back yet.

As a consequence they are not allowed to take any fresh-air exercise.

Ms O’Dowd said their new rooms are “comfortable and we’re content, but are concerned for all the other families booked into the room we left”.

The families celebrated Cadhla’s ninth birthday in quarantine on Sunday.

The family were returning to Ireland to live having been in New Zealand first and then Perth in Australia for the last seven years.

On their way back to Ireland, they stopped off in Dubai to change planes for 45 minutes.

12 days

As a result they will have to quarantine for 12 days at a cost of more than €6,000. Dubai is part of the Arab Emirates which is one of the 33 countries on the red list and travellers from there have to go into mandatory hotel quarantine.

Ms O’Dowd said there were just 27 passengers on the flight from Dubai on Friday to Dublin and all were spread out on the Emirates plane.

“We couldn’t be more socially distanced and we have come from a Covid-free city,” she said.

Ms O’Dowd is due to start work as an oncology nurse in Sligo University Hospital next month.

She said they had to wait for 90 minutes for their room on arriving into the Crowne Plaza and when they saw the size of their room “I was absolutely shocked. That was before the luggage came in. There is not space to swing a cat. There is no place to exercise.”

Ms O’Dowd said she realised 50 hours before they left that they would have to go into quarantine.

Their flights were booked for March 25th and they had given up their house in Perth and could not reschedule.

They were getting Covid-19 tests last Tuesday when they heard that quarantine was being introduced in the Republic at 4am on Friday morning.

They have a house in Easkey, Co Sligo, where they intend to live that was ready for them to quarantine in before they were forced to book a hotel stay.

“Because we are in the lowest risk part of the world, we never thought we would have to quarantine,” she said.

Some people who are coming from other parts of the world are flying through Qatar to avoid hotel quarantine, she added, but they did not have the time to do it.

In a statement, the Department of Health said it does not comment on individual cases. It added that even those who transit through designated countries must quarantine.

“If a passenger believes they are not required to undergo quarantine or are required to leave quarantine early, they may request a review,” a spokeswoman stated.

“The Department of Health is in constant contact with Tifco Hotel Group about all issues relating to the management of mandatory hotel quarantine.

“At all times, our priority is to ensure that everyone completing their period of mandatory quarantine is comfortable and secure. The department and Tifco continue to work together to ensure this is the case.”