Two who left hotel quarantine returned to facility, search for third continues

Three people leave Crowne Plaza Hotel just a day after arriving at Dublin Airport

The Crowne Plaza Hotel in Santry where travellers are staying as part of mandatory hotel quarantine regime. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

The Crowne Plaza Hotel in Santry where travellers are staying as part of mandatory hotel quarantine regime. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

Two of the three people who absconded from mandatory hotel quarantine in Dublin on Saturday are now back in the facility.

Gardaí have been searching for the three individuals who were staying in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Santry.

A search for the third male is continuing.

It is understood the three men escaped in two separate incidents. In one incident a male left the hotel on his own and has since been located and returned to the facility.

In a further incident, two people left together. One has since returned while a search continues for the other male.

The three left the hotel on Saturday despite a heavy security presence involving a private security contractor and Defence Forces personnel.

Those who leave hotel quarantine without permission can be fined up to €2,000 or face imprisonment of up to one month.

A Garda spokesman confirmed that gardaí had been called by the Defence Force’s State liaison officer at the hotel early on Saturday afternoon about the missing people.

“As the Department of Health is the lead agency in relation to the management of mandatory quarantining, An Garda Síochána will not be commenting further at this time,” a spokesman said.

Found

He said he could not comment on reports that one of those who left the hotel illegally had been found.

In a statement the Department of Health did not comment on the specific incident of the three people leaving quarantine, but stated it was a criminal offence to leave a designated facility without authorisation.

“An Garda Síochána will investigate any suspected offences and enforce these laws,” the department stated.

Meanwhile, another 34 people are due to arrive today for mandatory hotel quarantining, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said.

Defending the system after three people absconded on Saturday, he said they were “trying to create as normal an atmosphere as possible in these hotels rather than some kind of military detention centre”.

He said that “obviously on the first day of operation it’s not ideal that people have tried to leave but we will deal with issues as they emerge”.

Mr Coveney acknowledged the frustration for people being quarantined for 14 days with only being allowed out for a walk a couple of times a day but said “this is not a straightforward process and that’s why no other country in the EU is doing it except Ireland”.

Standard

Asked on RTÉ’s This Week programme about complaints made by a family about the standard of accommodation, the Minister said the Cisco Group had responsibility to ensure appropriate accommodation but “hotel quarantine is meant to be a deterrent to people, to send a very clear signal to different parts of the world that you should not be travelling to Ireland right now”.

They were not facilities people would look forward to staying in but “we have to ensure we provide a guaranteed minimum standard that children in particular, but also adults, will be looked after properly, and of course, there will be inspections and supervisory systems”.

Mandatory hotel quarantine was brought into operation at 4am on Friday morning and the first 20 people arrived on Friday morning. Most of them were on a direct flight from Dubai.

People from 33 designated “high-risk” countries must spend up to 12 days in one of four designated hotels, even if they are only transiting through those countries.

The countries include many in South America and Africa as well as the United Arab Emirates and Austria.

On Friday, a woman was escorted into the Crowne Plaza Hotel by security guards after she refused to leave a bus carrying passengers entering the Covid-19 mandatory hotel quarantine system.

The woman was visibly distressed and called out to waiting reporters as she was being led inside by security staff. She said she was entitled to live in Ireland and did not need to quarantine.

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.

The online booking portal for quarantine packages went live this week and as of Friday morning 76 people had made bookings. Of those, 37 are due to arrive in the country in the remaining days in March, 33 in April and six in May, a Department of Health spokeswoman said.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has designated the Crowne Plaza, the Holiday Inn Express in Santry, Clontarf Castle and the Hard Rock Hotel on Exchange Street Upper for use in the system.

Hotels will be assigned at random and the guests will have to stay in their rooms, except for strictly controlled smoking and exercise breaks. They will have access to wifi and an entertainment system.

People can be fined as much as €2,000 and/or sentenced to one month in prison if they do not fulfil their mandatory hotel quarantine.

The new quarantine rules also apply to any passenger who arrives from any country without a negative Covid-19 PCR test carried out no more than 72 hours before they landed. Those passengers will have to pay a day rate of €150.