Everything we know about life inside Ireland’s quarantine hotels

ireland
The new system was signed into law by the President on Sunday. Photo: PA Images.
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Legislation to introduce a new regime of hotel quarantine in the Republic has now been signed into law by the President.

In a statement on Sunday afternoon, the Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said the next step in the process would be to finalise and sign a contract with a service provider.

“I anticipate this will happen shortly,” he said.

As the Government works through some final operational hurdles, here is everything we know about what life under the new system will look like.

Remind me of who will have to quarantine in a hotel?

The hotel quarantine measures will apply to arrivals from 33 “high-risk” countries currently on the Government’s “category 2” list, where the risk of transmission of Covid-19 or mutations of the disease is considered high.

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The Minister for Health has stressed that the measures will apply regardless of a person’s nationality and that the list is subject to amendment and may be expanded.

It is also expected that those arriving into the State without proof of a negative PCR test for Covid-19 taken in the previous 72 hours will have to quarantine in a hotel.

So how will the process work upon arrival?

Passengers arriving into the State who are required to quarantine at a “designated facility” or hotel will likely have to book a slot in the system before they arrive.

Travellers will foot their own bill for the hotel stay, which is expected to be around €2,000 per adult.

Each traveller will then be required by law to stay in their room for a 14-day period with no visitors and no mixing with other travellers. Interactions with hotel staff will be kept to a minimum.

It is expected that travellers will receive a “letter of completion” upon finishing their period of quarantine.

What will daily life in the hotels look like?

Meals will likely be delivered three times a day to rooms in disposable containers, and are likely to be staggered to avoid guests opening doors along a corridor at the same time.

It is expected that smoking in the rooms will be prohibited. There may also be a limit on the amount of alcohol that a person could order.

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Arrangements regarding exercise remain unclear. Outdoor exercise is banned under Australia's system following a tightening of rules, while in New Zealand it is permitted in designated areas with strict controls.

It is likely that those staying at Ireland's quarantine hotels will undergo some regime of Covid-19 testing.

Where are the hotels?

It is understood that the Government is keen to find a “one-stop shop” provider of quarantine services that will provide accommodation, along with organising transport from airports, meals and security.

Department of Health officials are in talks with a number of hotels in a bid to ensure the new system is operational “as soon as possible,” according to The Irish Times.

Can I stay in a room with other people?

It remains unclear which arrangements will be put in place in Ireland. In New Zealand, there is a maximum of four to a room, such as in the case of two adults and two children, with a maximum of eight in a bubble across two rooms.

Can I leave in case of an emergency?

Sources have said that plans are being worked on in case a person has a mental health crisis or another medical emergency and that the relevant medical support will be available.

How will the hotels be policed?

It is likely that hotels will rely on private security firms to enforce general rules.

Gardaí are not expected to be generally on-site at the facilities and are also unlikely to have any role in escorting passengers from planes and ports to the hotels.

However, officers will be called to the hotels if those quarantining do not comply with the rules or leave the facility before they are allowed to.

What happens if I don’t comply with the rules?

Penalties for breaches of mandatory hotel quarantining include fines of up to €4,000 and/or a one-month prison sentence for a first offence.

Offences subject to these penalties include leaving the facility, endangering the health or safety of another person, or refusing a Covid-19 test.

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