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Mandatory hotel quarantine to be expanded and 'Iceland model' explored - Tánaiste

Arrivals from Brazil or South Africa or those without a PCR test are currently facing hotel quarantine.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar at Leaders' Questions today.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar at Leaders' Questions today.
Image: Oireachtas.ie

TÁNAISTE LEO VARADKAR has said that Ireland will extend mandatory hotel quarantine more widely in the coming weeks and will also give consideration to a dual-testing model employed in Iceland.

On Tuesday, the government announced new measures which force people arriving into this country to undertake mandatory quarantine either at home or in a hotel.

The measures are not operational yet but will see most people being legally required to quarantine at home.

Arrivals from Brazil or South Africa or those without a PCR test will be required to quarantine for two weeks in a hotel. 

“It is our intention to expand that as we develop the capability and capacity to do so, we don’t have that now, but we are building it up, and will allow us to extend mandatory hotel quarantine more widely as the weeks go on,” Varadkar told the Dáil this afternoon. 

The Tánaiste said that government was “cracking down very severely on international travel” and that it was “already down 97%. 

Varadkar also raised the possibility of other measures being introduced.

This included a system that is in operation in Iceland which would mean that travellers undergo a PCR test upon arrival, self-isolate for a period of five or six days and then leave quarantine if both tests are negative.  

“That is recommended by NPHET and is something that we’re giving full consideration to. We’ll make a decision on that quite soon. It’s the model that Iceland uses, two tesst five days apart, with quarantine in between, and that may well be where we go,” Varadkar said. 

Announcing the government’s new plans on Tuesday, Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said that people arriving here with a negative PCR test taken pre-departure must quarantine when they arrive but can end that quarantine with a negative test five days after arrival.  

An Tánaiste was responding to questions from Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty TD and Labour leader Alan Kelly TD about the government’s quarantine strategy.  

Kelly said:  “The public want people being quarantined when they come into this country, not this half-baked strategy.” 

Doherty said that the government ”ignored the advice from NPHET and the CMO” for not ending discretion when it comes to taking a post-arrival PCR test.

NPHET have said that their modelling shows that even the best performance in terms of pre-departure Covid-19 tests will miss up to 40% of cases.

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“Will you now introduce a mandatory requirement for all international arrivals to take a PCR test, post-arrival, as NPHET recommends,” he said.

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Rónán Duffy

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