Mandatory Hotel Quarantine Rules To Continue To Apply To Some During Summer
Mandatory hotel quarantine rules will reportedly remain in place for individuals who travel to Ireland from places that are deemed to be high-risk during the summer, despite government plans to sign up to a European green cert that would allow an increased level of travel later in the summer.
As reported by The Irish Times, the Department of the Taoiseach and the Department of Transport are working on a plan for resuming international travel ahead of the green cert's launch by June 26, and a memo detailing plans for a phased resumption of international travel will be brought to Cabinet next week.
According to The Irish Times, a government source said that there are fears about new and existing COVID-19 variants of concern, and mandatory hotel quarantine will remain in place for the coming months as a result, despite plans to ease international travel restrictions.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar reportedly said that it will be "August at the earliest" before non-essential international travel can resume.
The Irish Times quotes Varadkar as saying, "It's against the law at the moment to leave Ireland for non-essential reasons, but we will have to change that law at some point.”
The Irish Times also quotes the tánaiste as saying that it is his "fervent ambition that we will be able to restore the Common Travel Area with Britain very soon, so people can travel without restrictions…we will be able to restore that at some stage this summer or autumn.
"I'd like to see us have travel within the EU again and perhaps the US [without restrictions], but there will be large parts of the world not vaccinated fully until the middle of next year some time…so I think we will have some form of mandatory hotel quarantine in place for those high-risk areas."
According to The Irish Independent, some EU member states will have "flexibility" about how they can utilise the EU Digital Green Cert following its introduction.
The Irish Independent quotes Varadkar as saying, "Some countries might say [that] a test is enough, other countries might say you have to be vaccinated, other countries might say, you might have to be vaccinated and have a test."
The Irish Independent quotes Varadkar as saying regarding parts of the world that will not be vaccinated fully, or extensively, until the middle of next year, "Australia, New Zealand, China and others will not be vaccinated until the middle of next year.
"Large parts of the developing world, India, Brazil, aren't going to be vaccinated for quite some time as well."
As stated above, the tánaiste said that he thinks that some form of mandatory hotel quarantine will be in place for travellers from such places.
According to The Irish Independent, Varadkar said that it may be possible to allow travel into European countries, America, Israel and the Middle East sooner.
Mandatory Hotel Quarantine System Announcement And Commencement Date
Ireland's mandatory hotel quarantine rules were announced earlier this year and have applied since March 26.
Mandatory Hotel Quarantine System Contract Holder And Details
The contract for Ireland's mandatory hotel quarantine system was awarded to the Tifco Hotel Group, which operates 24 hotels including the Holiday Inn Express next to Dublin Airport and Travelodge venues next to both Dublin Airport and Cork Airport.
According to The Irish Times, documents published by the Department of Health show that the official value of the three-month hotel quarantine system contract that was awarded to Tifco is €5,416,290.
The contract is reportedly subject to two possible extensions that are each of one month.
According to The Irish Times, under the contract, Tifco, which, also according to The Irish Times, recorded revenues of €36.5 million in the year to the end of 2019, is required to provide a central reservation system through an online portal, shuttle services from ports and airports and full-board accommodation for up to 14 days for individuals who are required to enter hotel quarantine, security, and health assessment and monitoring services including two COVID-19 PCR tests for quarantining individuals during a 14 day stay, as well as three supervised breaks daily for individuals who are quarantining.
The documents published by the Department of Health reportedly reveal that 11 different hotel, travel and event management operators made submissions to the department offering to provide quarantine services and other services required by the department.
However, the Department of Health directly negotiated and concluded a contract with Tifco without a formal tendering process after Tifco showed that it is capable of providing all of the necessary services through its owns resources and through sub-contractors.
The Irish Times quotes the Department of Health as saying that it awarded the hotel quarantine system contract to Tifco outside of the normal tendering process that requires high-value state contracts to be advertised in the official journal of the EU due to the "extreme urgency brought about by events unforeseeable".
According to The Irish Times, the Department of Health claimed that an extremely urgent need to introduce a hotel quarantine system arose in a very short period of time as a result of the daily rising risk to public health caused by the emergence of new COVID-19 variants in certain countries.
According to The Irish Times, the Department of Health documents also reveal that the minister for health, Stephen Donnelly, intends to conduct a formal procurement competition for any hotel quarantine services that may be required after Tifco's contract expires.
"Neutral Value" To Taxpayers
Additionally, the Department of Health documents reportedly state that it is anticipated that the mandatory hotel quarantine system's cost will be "of neutral value" to taxpayers.
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