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new service What to expect in hotel quarantine: Room service, smoke breaks - and a €1,875 bill

How hotel isolation facilities will work for high-risk country arrivals

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Dublin Airport, as the Government introduces legislation enforcing hotel quarantine for international arrivals (Brian Lawless/PA)

Dublin Airport, as the Government introduces legislation enforcing hotel quarantine for international arrivals (Brian Lawless/PA)

Dublin Airport, as the Government introduces legislation enforcing hotel quarantine for international arrivals (Brian Lawless/PA)

NEARLY two months after the Cabinet first agreed to open mandatory quarantine hotels in Ireland, the booking portal has gone live.

Under the system, travellers arriving in Ireland from 33 high-risk countries will have to pay for stays of at least 10 days in the hotels, costing around €1,875 per person.

Guests will have meals delivered to their rooms and can take exercise breaks outdoors. In-room movies are included in the bill.

However, they will also be met at the airport by members of the Defence Forces, exercise breaks will be overseen by security personnel and there will be fines of €2,500 for non-compliance.

The aim is to create a deterrent, adding to the travel restrictions and public health measures in place to combat the transmission of Covid-19 variants. It is not known how long they will be in place.

Here is what we know about how the system will work.

When do quarantine hotels become active?

From 4am this Friday.

Who has to stay?

All passengers arriving in Ireland from, or transiting through, 33 high-risk states will have to book in, regardless of nationality.

Passengers who arrive from any location without a negative/not-detected result from an RT-PCR test taken 72 hours before their arrival must also check in.

What are the 33 high-risk countries?

Angola, Austria, Argentina, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Democratic Repub- lic of the Congo, Ecuador, Eswatini, French Guiana, Guyana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nam- ibia, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, South Africa, Rwanda, Seychelles, Suriname, Tanzania, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

This list may change "at short notice" as the situation in high-risk countries and at home evolves.

Where are the hotels?

The State has contracted Tifco Hotel Group to run the system and make rooms available as required.

Its hotels in Dublin include the Holiday Inn Express, Clontarf Castle, the Hard Rock Hotel in Temple Bar and The Hendrick in Smithfield, as well as a Crowne Plaza at Blanchardstown and Hilton Dublin Kilmainham.

Can I choose the hotel?

No, you can't.

How do you book in?

Guests will have to book in advance of their arrival in Ireland on quarantinehotelsireland.ie.

How long must you stay?

The mandatory period for people arriving from the 33 at-risk countries is 14 days, but this can be reduced to 12 days if a passenger receives a negative/not-detected Covid-19 test result after 10 days.

That can be extended if a passenger tests positive.

People who arrive from other countries without a negative test can depart once they receive a negative PCR result, completing their quarantine at home.

How much does it cost?

A standard rate for 12 nights costs €1,875 for a single adult in one room, with a second adult sharing charged at €625 and children aged four to 12 charged €360. Infants go free.

The daily rates for other guests are €150, €55 and €30.

Family or inter-connecting rooms will be provided for families when possible, the Department of Health says.

What happens between airport and hotel?

Guests will take a separate channel through the airport or ferry port, complete their paperwork and checks and then be met by members of the Defence Forces - the State Liaison Officers (SLOs) supervising and supporting the system. Tifco will provide bus transportation to the hotel.

At check-in, staff will provide what Health Minister Stephen Donnelly called a "welcome pack", containing details of the stay and how things like food choices and exercise will work.

Guests will be tested for Covid-19 on Day 0 and again on Day 10.

What about meals and drinks?

Guests will have breakfast, lunch and dinner delivered to their door.

"A comprehensive in-room dining menu has been developed for all meal times," the Department of Health says, and guests may buy any additional food or drink from the room service menu.

Can I leave my room for exercise and fresh air?

Fresh air (or smoking) breaks will be accommodated in "designated safe and secure" spaces - but only after guests have received a negative Day 0 PCR test result.

Guests will have to pre-book slots for exercise and fresh air.

An "online exercise programme" has also been developed, the Department of Health says, and Mr Donnelly said guests will receive two well-being "check-ins" a day.

What other facilities are available in the rooms?

None of the hotel restaurants or other facilities are available to quarantining guests.

In the room, facilities include free wifi and an entertainment package that includes free movies.

Hotels have completed Fáilte Ireland's Safety Charter, staff are being specially trained and ventilation engineers have confirmed that there is no circulation of air between rooms.

What if people try to leave? What security is in place?

The Defence Forces SLOs will be on site 24/7, as will licensed security officers. An Garda Síochána will be called to non-compliance issues.

Guests who do not fulfil the legal requirements can be fined up to €2,000, receive a prison sentence of up to one month, or both.

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