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'Self-quarantine' for arrivals is now the law with exemptions including for high-level sport

Laws around hotel quarantine are still being drafted.

Image: Shutterstock

REGULATIONS MAKING IT a legal obligation to quarantine after arriving into this country have been signed by the Minister for Health.

The laws relate to those who are required to quarantine at home, with primary legislation being drafted to cover the planned mandatory quarantine in hotels. 

The regulations state that people who have arrived into this country are required to “self-quarantine” for a period of 14 days, beginning on the day they arrive here. 

The quarantine must take place in a persons residence or the location stated on their Passenger Locator Form, which remains a legal requirement to complete. 

The period of quarantine no longer applies if a person receives a negative Covid-19 PCR test that was taken five days after arrival.  

These regulations do not apply to persons who have been in a “category 2″ country in the previous two weeks. These persons and those without a negative PCR test are required to quarantine for a full 14 days. 

Brazil and South Africa are currently the only countries categorised as such but the regulations state that other countries can be added to this list by the Minister for Health “having been advised by CMO” and “after consulting with the Minister for Foreign Affairs’. 

Exempted

The regulations also detail eight different categories of traveller who are exempted from the quarantine protocols.

These include people certified as providing essential goods and services, persons travelling for medical reasons, elected office holders, gardaí and members of the Defence Forces. 

There is also an exemption from the 14-day quatrain for people arriving from a country where securing a PCR test was not possible. 

The regulations also contain a specific exemption for high-level sportspeople which says that the regulations don’t apply if the person is “necessary in relation to a sporting event” as designated by Sport Ireland. 

According to the regulations, the person is only allowed to leave their residence to engage in competition or training but that the sporting event concerned must be “at an internationally important competitive level”.  

This stipulation comes ahead of the beginning this weekend of the 2021 Six Nations rugby championship which had been at risk due to quarantine being introduced in participating countries. 

The Cabinet heard this week that legislation is required to enforce rules on mandatory quarantining in hotels for ‘category 2′ arrivals , with this expected to be introduced in the coming weeks.

‘Two islands’

Following previous discussion around the possibility for a “two island solution” as regards quarantine measures in Ireland and Britain, Scottish officials have come out in favour of such an approach.  

Scotland’s national clinical director said the best case scenario for avoiding a third wave of coronavirus will be to include the Republic of Ireland in measures due to the existence of a common travel area with the UK.

The Scottish Government has said it will diverge from current UK policy which will see a system of “managed quarantine” brought in for travellers arriving from certain countries.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said those measures do not go far enough and her government will bring in such a system for all travellers from overseas, while also lobbying Westminster to tighten the rules.

Speaking at the Covid-19 Committee at Holyrood, neither Prof Leitch nor Scottish Constitution Secretary Mike Russell could give a date for when the new measures will be put in place.

But Prof Leitch said: “The public health advice would be that a five-country solution would be the favoured solution – you can imagine why, it’s not rocket science.

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“Dealing with any access, via Dublin, from another country would be helpful to us.”

He said if an agreement cannot be struck with other countries in the UK and Ireland, measures should still be put in place in Scotland to ensure coronavirus does not come back in through international travel.

“I’ve said many times at this committee, it doesn’t matter where your low prevalence area is – it could be just Dumfries and Galloway, it could be just the Western Isles, it could be Scotland, it could be the whole common travel area – you have to keep the virus out once you’re at low levels,” Prof Leitch said.

- With reporting by Press Association 

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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