Irish Daily Mail

Vaccinated ‘will not have to quarantine’

Rules on hotels will be changing

- By Ian Begley and Craig Hughes

THE rules for mandatory hotel quarantine are expected to drasticall­y change with fully vaccinated people no longer included.

Cabinet sources told the Irish Daily Mail last night there was ‘almost complete consensus’ that fully vaccinated people should not have to enter hotel quarantine.

‘There is also agreement that the appeals system needs to change, not allowing people to launch an appeal before they arrive doesn’t seem to be serving anyone well,’ a Cabinet source said.

From today, passengers arriving from the US and Canada, as well as a number of EU countries including France, Belgium and Italy will have to spend up to two weeks at a designated hotel.

However, due to a lack of capacity, the quarantine booking system has been temporaril­y suspended until Monday, meaning Ireland is off limits to travel for 71 countries and two territorie­s this weekend.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly blamed ‘walk-ins’ – people

‘Incompeten­ce and lack of foresight’

who simply turn up rather than having booked online before departure – as the main reason hotels ran out of rooms.

He accused airlines of ‘breaking the law’ and allowing their passengers to arrive into the country without having pre-booked their 12-night quarantine stay.

Aer Lingus has confirmed that it will deny boarding to anyone who does not pre-book in advance.

Mr Donnelly said that from Monday, capacity will increase from 650 rooms to about 960 rooms and a week later over 1,300 rooms.

However, the hotel quarantine system has been labelled a ‘shambles’ by the Opposition, as well as by health and travel experts.

The brother of Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney, Patrick Coveney – chief executive of food firm Greencore – vented his fury saying it was ‘hard to overstate the incompeten­ce and lack of foresight’ in the Government’s hotel quarantine plan.

The CEO of employers group Ibec has also criticised the hotel quarantine system saying it’s ‘nonsensica­l’. Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne, Danny McCoy said pharmaceut­ical, medical and technology businesses all require subject matter experts to come into the country.

In addition, he said, Ireland provides critical and essential software to factories internatio­nally.

He added that queries from senior executives as to ‘what is going on in Ireland’ have been coming in, particular­ly since the US was put on the list of countries.

The temporary halt to the booking system has wreaked havoc with those hoping to return home over the weekend. Terry Kruschke said her husband is due to return from the US in the coming days, but has nowhere to go.

‘My husband basically is in the [United] States at the moment – he had to go over a couple of weeks ago for a bereavemen­t,’ she told Newstalk’s Lunchtime Live.

‘And in the midst of all of this we got the PCR test, we did everything right. And then the quarantine came up last weekend, and the US was added to the list.

‘So we’re like, “OK, we can do this, we can do quarantine” – he’s meant to arrive this Friday. But then in the midst of that we couldn’t book... and now all of a sudden we’re being told if he arrives on Friday, supposedly a walk-in, and what’s going to happen because he may not have a place until Monday.’

Sinn Féin Transport spokesman Darren O’Rourke has said that the capacity problems are the result of ‘shambolic planning’. He said: ‘It is incomprehe­nsible how enough hotel rooms were not secured in advance of the rollout of this important public health measure.’

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