Thursday, 22 April 2021
Department of Health
128. To ask the Minister for Health if he has sought advice from the Chief Medical Officer or NPHET regarding the position of fully vaccinated persons and mandatory hotel quarantine; if so, if the advice will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20883/21]
129. To ask the Minister for Health the details of the criteria applied in respect of obliging persons travelling to Ireland from particular countries both EU and non-EU to undergo mandatory hotel quarantine. [20887/21]
135. To ask the Minister for Health the categories of exemptions and exceptions for mandatory hotel quarantine for persons travelling to Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20898/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 128, 129 and 135 together.
Mandatory hotel quarantine has been introduced as one element of Ireland’s public health measures to combat the transmission of COVID-19 variants of concern.
The Health Act 1947, as amended, provides that all persons arriving in Ireland from a designated state, or having travelled through a designated state in the previous 14 days, are required to undergo mandatory quarantine in a designated facility unless they are an exempted traveller under the Act. All applicable travellers must reserve and pay for a place in mandatory hotel quarantine.
Mandatory hotel quarantine is also necessary in circumstances where passengers coming from non-designated states do not provide evidence that they have a negative or ‘not detected’ result from a COVID-19 Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test carried out no more than 72 hours before arrival into Ireland.
The Act identifies those who are exempt from mandatory hotel quarantine;
- arriving into the State in the course of duty and who hold a valid Annex 3 certificate (ensuring the availability of goods and essential services)
- arriving in the State in the course of duty and are drivers of a heavy goods vehicle
- airline pilots, aircrew, maritime master or maritime crew and who arrive in the State in the course of performing duties
- travelling to the State pursuant to an arrest warrant, extradition proceedings or other mandatory legal obligation
- a member of An Garda Síochána or Defence Forces (or their equivalents from another state) and travelling to the State in course of duty
- travelling to the State for unavoidable, imperative and time-sensitive medical reasons and these reasons are certified by a registered medical practitioner or person with equivalent qualifications outside the State
- having been outside of the State to provide services to or perform the functions of an office holder (under any enactment or the Constitution) or a member of either house of the Oireachtas or the European Parliament
- diplomats and certain other categories of persons entitled to privileges and immunities in the State
Regulations also exempt transit passengers who do not leave the port or airport before travelling out of the State and who have a 'not detected' COVID-19 PCR test result, following a test taken within 72 hours of their arrival into Ireland.
The Government continues to evaluate wider policy on international travel as informed by the epidemiological situation and public health advice.
In this context, Regulations have been introduced to exempt limited categories of persons from Mandatory Hotel Quarantine;
- Fully vaccinated persons arriving from designated states are exempt from Mandatory Hotel Quarantine. This only applies to persons who are fully vaccinated with an EMA-approved vaccine. Travellers must have a negative pre-departure PCR test and complete a period of self-quarantine at home or wherever specified the passenger locator form.
- All families travelling with new-born babies (no more than 28 days old), including those who have travelled to a designated state for the purpose of surrogacy, do not have to complete mandatory hotel quarantine. Travellers must have a negative pre-departure PCR test and complete a period of self-quarantine at home or wherever specified the passenger locator form.
- Elite athletes, whose attendance is necessary for the running of a high-level sporting event. These people are still required to quarantine at home, except for the time necessary to attend the sporting event. This step allows for the safe continuation of high-level sports while also protecting against spread of COVID-19.
The provisions of the Act allow for travellers to request a review of decisions relating to their quarantine; however, this can only be undertaken once quarantine has begun. Requests for review can be based only on a limited number of grounds and public health will remain a paramount consideration. The SLO (Irish Defence Forces) in the hotel can provide further information on how to apply.
It is important to note that the list of designated states will be subject to change at short notice and passengers are required to check the list before travelling to Ireland, to be sure of their obligations.
Further information on exemptions can be accessed on www.gov.ie/quarantine.