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Passengers without negative test will have to pay for stay in quarantine hotels under Cabinet plans

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An empty Terminal 1 Departures Hall at Dublin Airport. Photo: Steve Humphreys

An empty Terminal 1 Departures Hall at Dublin Airport. Photo: Steve Humphreys

An empty Terminal 1 Departures Hall at Dublin Airport. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Passengers will have to pay for their own stay in quarantine hotels which may be policed by security firms under plans being discussed by the Cabinet Committee on Covid-19.

It is expected passengers arriving without negative a PCR test will be required to pay to stay in supervised hotels for between five and 14 days.

Those who are willing to pay for a Covid-19 test will be permitted to leave after five days if they get a negative result but those that do not may be required to remain in the quarantine centres at their own expense for up to two weeks.

A number of Government sources said they do not believe gardai will be involved in policing quarantine hotels and rather private security firms will be hired.

Separately, new rules for all other passengers flying into Ireland are expected to become stricter with all arrivals asked to quarantine in their homes for two weeks.

To date, instructions to restrict movements on arrival have been guidance rather than regulations but ministers are now considering making it a legal requirement to stay a home for two weeks.

“There is a desire across Government that the 14 days restricting your movements would be required and not requested,” a source said.

This may involve gardai making unannounced spot check on a passenger’s home to ensure they are restricting their movements.

Breaches of the new rules may be punishable by fines and imprisonment if introduced. Failing to fill in a passenger location form currently can be punished by a fine of up to €2,500 and six months in prison. Similar penalties are being considered for the new home quarantine laws.

The Cabinet Committee will also consider making travellers arriving from Britain, Brazil and South Africa quarantine for two weeks due to the new more transmissible strains in these countries. They may also be able to leave quarantine if they secure a negative PCR test result after five days.

The government is also considering a number of factors such as allowing people avoid quarantine if they are travelling on compassionate grounds.

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A range of quarantine measures were discussed by senior officials from across Government departments over the weekend. The proposals will be debated this evening before being agreed by Cabinet tomorrow.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said the Citywest Hotel in Dublin may be used a as a quarantine centre.

Separately, the Government is expected to extend Level 5 restrictions for the entire country until the end of February. They will also discuss reopening schools but a decision is not expected until later in the week. The Taoiseach has indicated that schools may not fully reopen until St Patrick’s Day.

The Cabinet Committee will meet at around 4pm. Taoiseach Micheal Martin along with Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan will discuss the next stage in the fight against the coronavirus with Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan and HSE chief executive Paul Reid. Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath, Justice Minister Helen McEntee and Education Minister Norma Foley will all attend the meeting either in person or by video link.

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