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The Crowne Plaza Hotel, one of the State's designated quarantine hotels (file photo) Leon Farrell/

Government to pay cost of hotel quarantine for Irish students returning from EU states

Around 500 students are set to return home from five countries this summer.

THE GOVERNMENT HAS agreed to pay the costs of mandatory hotel quarantine for Irish students set to return from EU countries listed as so-called ‘category 2′ states.

Hundreds of students on Erasmus are due to return from countries which would require them to undergo 14-day quarantine in a designated hotel after Belgium, France, Italy and Luxembourg were added to the list – which already contained Austria – last week.

The cost of quarantining, which is required by law, is almost €2,000 for the two-week stay and concerns had been raised about whether students could afford this.

The Government already funds the Erasmus programme for students taking part, including for travel and some additional costs.

Higher Education Minister Simon Harris confirmed last night that the State would also cover the cost for returning Erasmus students following a consultation within his department.

The minister also said further details about how this would happen will be provided in the coming days.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne programme this morning, Harris urged Erasmus students not to panic and to continue their studies abroad.

He said his preference was for the Department of Foreign Affairs to extend a waiver, which prevents people having to quarantine on compassionate grounds, to students.

“We the Irish government are paying the cost, and I think we have a duty of care for it to help them get home,” he said.

However, he also explained that the move would only impact Erasmus students and not those studying outside the EU, in places such as the US and Canada which are also on the list, whose programmes the government does not fund.

Around 1,000 Irish students are currently taking part in the Erasmus in other EU countries. It is estimated that around half of these are in the five countries on the mandatory quarantine list.

A spokesperson said last night that the expected return of students would likely be staggered, with many not due to return until July or August.

- Contains reporting by Christina Finn.

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