Ireland will have the strictest Covid-19 mandatory quarantining system in the entire of EU, according to a Department of Foreign Affairs briefing document.
The system being designed by our Government goes further than anywhere else on the Continent, according to a paper prepared by senior civil servants involved in drafting an unprecedented system for detaining people arriving in this country.
It’s still unclear when the hotel quarantine system will be up and running but when it does we will be only country in the EU requiring residents to quarantine in hotels if arriving from red list countries.
Only our erstwhile friends in the UK are planning to introduce a quarantine system as stringent as us which will see all arrivals from countries deemed to be unsafe forced to fork out up to €2,000 per person to stay in a hotel for up to a fortnight.
People arriving from 33 countries ranging from Austria to Argentina and South Africa to Seychelles will be held in quarantine hotels once they are introduced later this month.
“Increasingly, European countries have developed their own lists of high-risk countries (sometimes called red lists),” the Department of Foreign Affairs briefing says.
“Additional entry requirements or restrictive measures are in place for travellers originating in these countries. As the incidence of new variants outside their countries of origin has increased, so too has the number of high-risk areas designated by various European health authorities.”
Only Norway and the United Kingdom have a system of mandatory quarantine in a designated facility.
But unlike the UK and Ireland, Norwegian residents are not required to quarantine in a designated facility. Instead, they are asked to quarantine at home while non-residents are brought to hotels, the document notes.
Cyprus introduced mandatory hotel quarantining but only for arrivals from the UK and it is only in place until the end of the month at which point it will be reviewed.
Hungary has banned any non-residents from entering the country while a quarantining system is available to those who have no fixed address to undergo home quarantine.
In Greece, passengers are randomly tested for the coronavirus when they arrive in ports and airports. Non-residents who test positive are required to stay in quarantine hotels for 14 days but the cost is covered by the Greek government.
“Testing before departure or on arrival is widespread across Europe, the frequency and timing of testing varies from country to country, as does the availability of “test to release” schemes,” according to the Department of Foreign Affairs report.
In Belgium, all passengers arriving from the United Kingdom, South Africa or South America must quarantine for 10 days and are required to get a PCR Covid-19 test on their first and seventh day in the country.
In Austria, people arriving from most countries are required to have a negative test on arrival and if they don’t are asked to get one within 24 hours. Both antigen and PCR tests are sufficient and passengers are asked to quarantine for at least 10 days. It can be ended after five days if you get a negative PCR or antigen Covid test.
In comparison, anyone arriving in Ireland from Austria will be required to spend up to two weeks in a quarantine hotel at their own expense where they will have to undergo a number of coronavirus tests before they can leave.
Denmark, which has a similar population to Ireland, requires passengers to have a negative test result within the 24 hours before they arrive in the country. They are then given a rapid antigen test in the airport and are asked to isolate for 10 days. They can stop isolating after the fourth day if they get a clear PCR test. The island of Malta has banned travel to and from Britain, South Africa and Brazil, and residents who are in those countries and want to return are required to get tests before arriving and on arrival. They are asked to quarantine for 14 days but they are not held in State-run facilities.
The Government is determined to introduce a system comparable to New Zealand, Austria and Singapore where all arrivals are required to fork out for lengthy stays in hotels.
During a call with New Zealand’s Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins last week, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly was warned to expect problems when our quarantine system is introduced. Their system was introduced last year. But Minister Hipkins may also point to the fact there have only been 26 Covid-19 related deaths in his country compared to the now 4,333 here.