Dáil passes bill for reintroduction of mandatory hotel quarantine

Dáil passes bill for reintroduction of mandatory hotel quarantine

THE DÁIL has passed a bill which will allow for the reintroduction of mandatory hotel quarantine for those coming into Ireland from countries that are deemed to be of high-risk of transmission of Covid-19.

It can also allow for the quarantine of people who fail to comply with pre-arrival testing requirements.

The bill passed all stages of the Dáil late on Thursday night, and will proceed to the Seanad today, Friday December 3.

Hotel quarantine was introduced by the government too curb the spread of the virus and was in place until September 25.

Speaking during a debate on the bill yesterday, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said "we know that the system of hotel mandatory quarantine previously in place worked", with 593 residents testing positive for the virus and a total of 17,846 tests completed.

"This data of course does not take account of cases which were avoided in the community as a result of hotel quarantine, or of the travellers who delayed travel to Ireland as a result of the imposition of quarantine."

He said he believes the legislation strikes a "fair and proportionate balance" between the protection of public health and the restrictions on individual rights.

"It is of note that the UK introduced hotel quarantine very quickly in response to the emergence, and potential risk, of the new variant," he continued.

"The Irish Government has decided at this point to reintroduce the legal basis for hotel quarantine, should it be deemed necessary in response to the threat posed by Omicron variant."

Exemptions for those who have left Ireland for a short period of time and are looking to return could also be considered.

The government has also postponed the requirement for a pre-arrival negative Covid-19 test to gain entry to Ireland by two days to Sunday at midnight.

It now appears as those who sought tests for arrival on Friday and Saturday did not need them.

The negative test can be either a PCR test taken 72 hours before arrival or a professionally-administered antigen test taken 48 hours before arrival. Children aged 11 and under will not be required to have a negative test.

Minister Helen McEntee denied that the change was an example of confusion by government on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

"I think people will appreciate that a number of departments are involved here," she said.

"It takes time where you have to engage and make sure that the regulations are correct. This is simply procedural.

"It’s not that there has been a change at all. There is just a little bit longer time needed between departments to finalise these."