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President Higgins to sign mandatory hotel quarantine legislation into law early next week

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President Michael D Higgins will sign mandatory hotel quarantine legislation into law early next week.

The law change will see passengers arriving from 33 countries ‘high risk’ countries as well as arrivals without a negative Covid test will have to undergo mandatory quarantine in hotels at their own expense for two weeks.

The legislation was passed in the Dáil last week after a Labour amendment to include all arrivals into the country was defeated.

After President Higgins signs the legislation into law, the quarantine will come into effect “as soon as possible”.

“The operational work is at an advantaged stage so soon after it’s signed into law it should come into operation as soon as possible,” said a Government spokesperson.

It is not yet clear how many facilities will be used, although it is understood that commercial discussions with “certain providers” are ongoing and are at an advanced stage.

The topic was briefly mentioned at today’s Cabinet meeting and it is understood that a procurement process is also ongoing.

Minister Helen McEntee has said that because the passengers from ‘high risk’ countries have not committed an offence, it would not be “appropriate” to have Gardaí police the facilities.

A “one stop” private security provider will instead monitor the facilities.

Ireland is leading the EU on mandatory hotel quarantine and is has one of the fastest vaccine roll-outs in the bloc, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said in the Seanad yesterday.

He said Irish people need to see unity from their politicians, decrying claims that the vaccine roll-out in Ireland is a “debacle” or that mandatory quarantine is being introduced much too late.

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He added that it was “simply not credible” to suggest that the mandatory quarantine being brought in now is a case of better late than never.

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