Athletes to be exempt from hotel quarantine, says Donnelly

However, Minister for Health said governing bodies would need ‘equivalent situation’

Leinster play La Rochelle in France on May 2nd. Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Leinster play La Rochelle in France on May 2nd. Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho

 

Elite and professional athletes will be exempt from undergoing hotel quarantine on arrival in Ireland, according to Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly but governing bodies must “put in place equivalent situations”.

There has been questions this week about whether the regime would extend to the likes of Leinster when they return from playing La Rochelle in France on the first weekend of May and also the Ireland women’s team who may have to travel to play Italy in Parma on April 26th.

In the case of the Ireland women’s team, former captain Fiona Coghlan was among those to raise the issue this week on the basis that the players are amateur and therefore would have to seek more time off work while the bill for hotel quarantine would set the IRFU back €60,000.

Speaking to RTÉs’ Prime Time on Thursday, Donnelly said that sportspeople would be exempt from quarantining in a designated hotel but governing bodies of elite sports would have to “put in place equivalent situations”.

“Another exemption that came in tonight for sports for elite and professional athletes. Now there is a very important part of this which is their governing bodies can put in place equivalent situations.”

Such a situation would, according to Minister of State for Sport Jack Chambers when speaking earlier in the week, allow teams to train and participate in matches but not meet up with family or friends or go home.

“It is crucial we have an equivalent system that is of the same public health standard as the standard hotel quarantine regime but enables athletes and teams to continue to train and participate in sporting activity only. Athletes would be otherwise isolated; they could not go anywhere else or meet a family member for example. It is just to allow for their sporting activity,” Chambers said on Monday.

“The final details are still being worked on,” said Chambers, “but what we are seeking to put in place is an equivalent system to mandatory hotel quarantine for the purposes of allowing for our high-performance athletes to continue to train and participate in international events.

“Working within the regulations that the Minister for Health is bringing in, if the travel is essential, the relevant governing body will have to submit a request to Sport Ireland who will work with the HSE. Their approval will be based on satisfactory quarantine arrangements that meet the standard being agreed upon arrival in Ireland.

“There will be very strict and clear protocols in place with an approval process that is underpinned by public health.”

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