Quarantine quandary | 

Ireland’s new quarantine laws – How will they work and who do they apply to?

Anyone arriving from South Africa or Brazil, and those without a negative PCR test, can be held for up to 14 days
People wearing protective face masks at Terminal 2 in Dublin Airport as a requirement for people arriving in Ireland (Brian Lawless/PA)

People wearing protective face masks at Terminal 2 in Dublin Airport as a requirement for people arriving in Ireland (Brian Lawless/PA)

Philip Ryan

The Government is to begin quarantining travellers arriving in Ireland from overseas for the first-time with the Cabinet signing off on the principles for the new measures. Who will the measures apply to and how it will work?

Who faces being held in quarantine?

All passengers arriving from South Africa and Brazil could be held for up to two weeks in quarantine. The Government has also suspended all short-term visas for people coming from South Africa, Brazil and other South American countries.

The aim is to stop people travelling to Ireland from these regions. However, those that do will face quarantine when it is introduced. Anyone arriving into Ireland without a negative PCR laboratory Covid-19 test also faces quarantine.

How long will they be held?

Anyone arriving from South Africa or Brazil can be held for up to 14 days. Those arriving without a negative test from other countries also face a fortnight in quarantine but may be released after five days if they get a negative test.

This group of people will be tested on arrival in Ireland and will then be put into quarantine. But five days later they can be tested again at their own expense. If they have two consecutive negative tests, they will potentially be released from quarantine.

A notice for arriving passengers at Terminal 2 in Dublin Airport (PA)

A notice for arriving passengers at Terminal 2 in Dublin Airport (PA)

Where will they be held?

They will be held in quarantine hotels which will potentially be policed by private security firms. The Taoiseach has indicated the Citywest Hotel may be used as a quarantine centre.

How much will this cost?

Details of how much it will cost or who will pay are still being worked on by officials, but in countries such as New Zealand the cost of isolation is more than €1,800 for a single person with extra charges for partners and children. The Government’s Senior Officials Group is to consider charging passengers for their stay in quarantine.

Will there be fines?

Yes, people who arrive without a test face being fined up to €2,500 or could even be hit with a prison sentence of six months.

What about people arriving with a negative Covid test?

Guidance on restricting movements for two weeks on arrival in Ireland for other passengers is to be made a legal requirement underpinned by new laws. This will mean any breaches of the law will be punishable by fines or imprisonment. Travellers arriving from countries which require two weeks of restricting movements will be asked to quarantine in their homes for a fortnight and may be subjected to spot checks by gardaí. The rules will also apply to people living in Ireland who fly into Belfast and travel into the south.

How are they trying to stop people making unnecessary journeys overseas?

The Government is also set to increase the €100 fine for breaches of the 5km travel rule and put more Garda checks near airports to catch people making unnecessary journeys. There are also plans to put Garda checks near the Border to stop people travelling to and from Belfast for non-essential overseas travel.

What about working with the North and Britain on travel rules?

The Cabinet memo committed to working with the Northern Assembly and Westminster on finding a two-island solution to issues around travel.

When will all of this come into force?

There is no clarity on when any these measures will be introduced with Cabinet ministers only told legal and operational arrangements for the quarantine measures are to be brought to Government by Health Minister Stephen Donnelly following more discussions with other departments.

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