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Ireland’s hotel quarantine is imminent… here’s how the rest of the world did it

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A hotel quarantine room in Perth, Australia (Photo: Ronan O'Connell)

A hotel quarantine room in Perth, Australia (Photo: Ronan O'Connell)

A hotel quarantine room in Perth, Australia (Photo: Ronan O'Connell)

New legislation to enforce mandatory hotel quarantine for passengers arriving from high-risk countries as well as arrivals without a negative Covid test has been signed into law by President Michael D Higgins.

The Health (Amendment) Act 2021 is expected to be operational within a week and will allow the State to require passengers arriving from a list of named countries with a high incidence of Covid-19 to quarantine for 14 days in a designated hotel.

The government has yet to announce what facilities will be used for quarantine purposes and how much it will cost, but it is understood to be around €2,000 per adult.

As Ireland joins the list of countries enforcing mandatory hotel quarantine, what other countries have done it and how?

United Kingdom

The British government introduced it’s quarantine programme for Britons arriving home from Covid-19 hotspots abroad on 15 February.

The scheme means travellers arriving back from a list of 33 Red List nations are forced to stay in hotels for 10 days at their own expense before being allowed to go home.

Nationals of those countries are already refused entry to the UK and most direct flights have already been banned.

The countries include all of South America, large parts of Africa - including South Africa - and the United Arab Emirates.

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Portugal is currently the only European country on the list, which is reviewed on a weekly basis.

While arrivals from non-Red List nations can be freed from home quarantine after five days if they pass a test, this option is not available to Red List arrivals and there is no way around the 10-day stay.

Quarantine hotels are located near airports including Heathrow, Gatwick, London City, Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.

Hotel staff provide residents with three meals a day as well as other essential services.

Residents can also order items to be delivered, but are prohibited from stepping outside of their hotel rooms.

Travellers are required to take two Covid-19 tests during their stay, on day two and day eight.

Failure to stick to the hotel quarantine will be punishable with a fine of up to £10,000 (€11,662).

Canada

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau first announced mandatory hotel quarantine on 29 January as part of the federal response to clamp down on the surge of Covid-19 cases across the country.

The new “mandatory hotel stopover” came into effect on 21 February and states that international travellers flying to Canada will have to quarantine for a minimum of three days at a selected hotel.

Many have questioned the efficacy of the new mandatory hotel quarantine rules and complained about the cost of staying in a hotel for the allotted time -three days with a mandatory bill of $2,000 (€1,685).

Travellers are required to reserve a government-authorized hotel for three nights prior to departure to Canada, take a Covid-19 molecular test on arrival in Canada and stay in the government-authorized hotel while awaiting the results of the Covid-19 molecular test taken on arrival.

Residents must also pay for the cost of the hotel stay, as well as all associated costs for food, security, transportation and infection prevention and control measures.

Hotels are responsible for transporting guests, providing meals, Wifi and phone access, as well as allowing travellers some time outside of their hotel rooms, while being separated from other guests.

Hotels are also responsible for reporting traveller information to the authorities and ensuring that travellers comply with the rules.

The mandatory 3-night reservation at a government-authorized hotel is a fully prepaid, non-refundable rate.

New Zealand

New Zealand has maintained some of the toughest travel guidelines in the world since March 2020 and the country's prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, has been praised for her handling of the crisis, in which only 26 people have died, with 2,405 cases in total.

Its early lockdown and strict border measures mean it has suppressed the virus to an impressive degree.

All arrivals, including New Zealand citizens, must undertake 14 days of mandatory quarantine and test negative for Covid-19 at the end of this period before entering the community.

Passengers have to book their stay at a quarantine-managed four or five-star hotel selected by the government and book via an online Managed Isolation Allocation system and receive a voucher confirming their appointment.

The system is currently fully booked through to the end of May and anyone wanting to book a slot must join an online waiting list.

Passengers cannot choose which city or hotel to stay in, although those on the same flight are usually taken to the same hotel.

Travelers coming from the UK or US must also have a negative Covid-19 test result before boarding their flight.

On January 26, 2021, Ardern confirmed that New Zealand's borders will remain closed for most of this year, but the country will continue to pursue travel arrangements with neighboring Australia and other Pacific nations.

Australia

Prime Minister Scott Morrison first announced the government’s plan to introduce a mandatory hotel quarantine scheme on March 27, 2020.

The measures apply to all international travellers entering Australia, except for those travelling from New Zealand.

Currently, only Australian citizens and residents can travel to Australia and all arrivals are subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine at a variety of state-picked hotels, many of which hold four or five-star ratings.

Travellers don’t get to choose which hotel they stay at, nor do they get to pick their rooms.

Travellers landing at the airport must undergo a Covid-19 symptom and temperature check at the airport, after which they are transported to a state-managed hotel via buses.

Most hotel quarantines state that doors and windows of the room be closed at all times during the stay, with some exceptions for hotels that include a balcony.

Hotel staff deliver meals, laundry services and health checks, to the rooms daily, and some states allow travellers to order takeout meals on a limited basis.

The exact cost of a 14-week quarantine depends on the state and the hotel someone stays in, but solo-travellers can expect to pay on average around $3,000 (€1,938) for two weeks, while a family of four will pay around $5,000 (€3,230).

Travellers are expected to pay the fee within 30 days of leaving the hotel.

Anyone who violates quarantine rules can expect penalty fines of up to $50,000 (€32,302), depending on the state, as well as jail time.

China

Since the onset of the pandemic which originated in Wuhan, international travellers arriving in China are subject to tests in airports and ordered to stay in designated quarantine hotels for 14 days, where their movements are tracked by smartphone apps.

Passengers are taken from the airport by bus to state-designated hotels, with no information given about which hotel beforehand.

Hotel staff wearing full PPE call to the rooms at least twice a day to record everyone’s temperatures.

Food, included in the final price, is provided but the quality and quantity vary dramatically and some hotels do not allow outside delivery or alcohol.

A Covid-19 test is taken after one week and a second time just before the end of quarantine.

The cost for a fortnight for one traveller is typically between RMB4,200 and RMB7,000 (€542 and €903).

In some quarantine hotels, special robots are used to deliver meals and water to rooms to reduce contact between guests and staff.

Beijing introduced a "14+7+7" quarantine system for incoming travellers, which involves 14 days of hotel quarantine, seven days of home quarantine and seven days of health monitoring.

The provinces of Jilin and Zhejiang and the city of Dalian have introduced similar measures.

United States

The US does not have a mandatory quarantine programme, however with cases of Covid-19 now past the 29 million mark, many states have updated or expanded their travel rules and regulations.

It comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to warn against nonessential travel for US citizens.

While some US states still have no restrictions on leisure travel, the majority of states have mandates on face masks in public settings.

California lifted its recent stay-at-home order but discourages out-of-state visitors and encourages arrivals to quarantine for 10 days upon entering the state.

Other states enforcing mandatory quarantine include Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and New Mexico.


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