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'mortifying' Film crew due to travel from LA to job in Dublin ‘left in limbo’ by hotel quarantine mess

Aine O’Neill (34), who is originally from Tallaght but now lives in Los Angeles, is due to travel to Ireland on Sunday to work on a film production and said the crew have been “left in limbo”.

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Aine O’Neill from Tallaght is due to fly to Ireland from LA on Sunday with a film crew but they don’t have a quarantine hotel booked

Aine O’Neill from Tallaght is due to fly to Ireland from LA on Sunday with a film crew but they don’t have a quarantine hotel booked

Aine O’Neill from Tallaght is due to fly to Ireland from LA on Sunday with a film crew but they don’t have a quarantine hotel booked

A Dublin woman who runs an agency promoting Ireland as a filming location said she feels “mortified” by the Government’s handling of the mandatory hotel quarantine (MHQ) system.

Aine O’Neill (34), who is originally from Tallaght but now lives in Los Angeles, is due to travel to Ireland on Sunday to work on a film production and said the crew have been “left in limbo”.

When she contacted Dublin Airport for information, she was advised she wouldn’t be allowed on her flight after Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said airlines can’t let people board without a booking for a quarantine hotel.

However, American Airlines told her it hadn’t received any such information.

Ms O’Neill received her Covid-19 vaccine six weeks ago and had booked to stay at a hotel for five nights prior to the US being added to the list of high-risk countries.

“I am more embarrassed than stressed,” Ms O’Neill told Independent.ie.

“I’m such a proud Irish person as all I do is tell people to film in Ireland and I’m in the middle of setting up my own consultancy agency and it’s embarrassing to not be able to give a straight answer about what’s happening. I rang Dublin Airport for information and was told ‘your guess is as good as mine’ and that Minister Donnelly had said people couldn’t fly here without a booking.

“We then rang American Airlines who said they haven’t been given any such instruction. I think they forgot that America is big business for Ireland and it’s not only Aer Lingus and Ryanair who fly there.”

Ms O’Neill said all crew members have received their vaccines and they had booked in to film at a studio location in Dublin for five days.

She said the crew employs a Covid compliance officer and everything is done “by the book”.

“We’re coming in to work, we’re not going on holiday. My mam is very sick at home, she’s 67 and can’t get the vaccine and it breaks my heart. I’m very respectful of the situation in Ireland.

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“At the moment we would land in Dublin Airport on Monday morning, very early, around 1am. Technically we would be arriving on Monday but we can’t get onto the system to book accommodation at a quarantine hotel. I am now worried about having the crew landing in Dublin Airport and having nowhere for them to go.”

Bookings for the four quarantine hotels currently in operation were paused on Tuesday due to capacity concerns after the Government added 16 more countries to the mandatory quarantine list. People travelling into Ireland from any of the 71 high-risk countries will not be able to book accommodation at these hotels until Monday, April 19.

Countries such as the US, Canada, France and Italy were all added to the list from today and the move has drawn much criticism.

Italy’s ambassador to Ireland, Paulo Serpi, slammed the MHQ system as “discriminatory” and called for it to be removed “as soon as possible”.

Mr Serpi wrote to Mr Donnelly asking for it to be “revoked as soon as possible”.

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has defended MHQ after his brother, who is head of food multinational Greencore, described it as “prison”.

Patrick Coveney tweeted: “Hard to overstate the incompetence & lack of foresight here. Ireland is now officially shut off from US and most of EU with little hope of being able to safely source the massive levels of hotel ‘prison capacity’ to sustain Mandatory Hotel Quarantine”.

When asked about his brother’s comments, on RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne, Mr Coveney said his brother was a “big boy” and had a right to express his view in a democratic country.

“Mandatory hotel quarantine is temporary, but it is necessary,” he said.

Mr Coveney said the Government will soon make a decision on whether vaccinated people will be exempt from quarantine.

He revealed a memo will be brought to Cabinet within the next two weeks.

All passengers arriving from countries on the MHQ list are required to check in to designated hotels for up to 12 nights at a cost of almost €2,000 per person.



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