Hotel quarantine appeals unsuccessful in 90% of cases

Just 71 appeals of 685 were granted, as India among countries that may be added to list

Defence Forces and a paramedic outside the Crowne Plaza, a quarantine hotel in Santry, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Defence Forces and a paramedic outside the Crowne Plaza, a quarantine hotel in Santry, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

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The vast majority of international travellers who appealed the requirement to quarantine in a hotel have had their application denied since the system began operating at the end of last month.

Figures provided by the Department of Health show that 685 people made appeals, but 614 of those – or just under 90 per cent – were refused.

The numbers show that as of April 26th, 71 appeals had been granted.

The imposition of mandatory hotel quarantine has seen a number of high-profile court cases brought by people seeking exemption from the regime.

The figures, provided by the Department of Health, suggest that a significant proportion of people who enter mandatory quarantine – which can cost €1,875 for a single person – seek a review of their case.

Social Democrats TD Holly Cairns raised the issue with Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly in recent days.

Mr Donnelly told Ms Cairns that the amended Health Act 1947, which covers mandatory hotel quarantine, allows for travellers to request a review of decisions relating to their quarantine.

He said such reviews could only be undertaken once quarantine had begun and on a limited number of grounds. “Public health will remain a paramount consideration,” he said.

Decisions must be made on cases within 24 hours of receipt of request for a review.

“Appeals officers have been selected from a group of barristers, who have also provided a service in relation to the International Protection Appeals Tribunal,” Mr Donnelly said, adding that there were 35 appeal officers in place to ensure reviews were be completed within 24 hours.

Exemptions

People who are exempt from mandatory hotel quarantine include those who can prove they have been fully vaccinated and the parents of newborn babies, including those born through surrogacy. In such circumstances, negative PCR tests are required and the passengers must still quarantine at home.

Ms Cairns argued that the grounds for exemption needed to be “made much clearer” as there was “confusion” over the kinds of circumstances in which they would be granted.

“People should be allowed to appeal before they arrive,” she said. “This would make the system more effective and free up space.”

India, which is in the midst of a devastating surge of Covid-19, is set to be added to Ireland’s mandatory hotel quarantine list. Iran, Mongolia, Georgia and Costa Rica are also expected to be added to the countries deemed to be of high risk for Covid-19 or its variants.

Mr Donnelly’s spokesman did not respond to a query on whether European countries such Germany and Sweden would be added to the list after they had been recommended for inclusion by chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan.

India has reported more than 300,000 cases of Covid-19 for the sixth successive day, in a crisis the World Health Organisation has described as “beyond heartbreaking”.

The Indian ambassador to Ireland has expressed gratitude for Ireland’s “gesture of solidarity” in sending oxygen supplies to India but warned that his country was in a “grave” situation and was in need of further support.

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