Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Questions (2114)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

2114. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Health the examination he has undertaken on the possibility of exemptions from the mandatory hotel quarantine system for Irish students studying abroad as a result of the fact that they were unaware of this situation prior to their departure and the enormous financial hardship that it would impose on them given that many would not be in a position to sustain same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19895/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Health Act 1947, as amended, provides that all persons arriving in Ireland from a designated state, or having travelled through a designated state in the previous 14 days, are required to undergo mandatory quarantine in a designated facility unless they are an exempted traveller under the Act. All applicable travellers must reserve and pay for a place in mandatory hotel quarantine.

Mandatory hotel quarantine is also necessary in circumstances where passengers coming from non-designated states do not provide evidence that they have a negative or ‘not detected’ result from a COVID-19 Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test carried out no more than 72 hours before arrival into Ireland.

The Act identifies those who are exempt from mandatory hotel quarantine and a full list of exemptions can be accessed on gov.ie/quarantine.

As of 17th April, travellers who are fully vaccinated and have documents to prove their vaccination are exempt from completing mandatory hotel quarantine. Fully vaccinated travellers are still required to have a negative pre-departure RT-PCR test and complete a period of self-quarantine at home or wherever specified in their passenger locator form.

The following table outlines the definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ in order to qualify for an exemption.

Type of vaccine

You are regarded as fully vaccinated after

Pfizer-BioNtech

7 days after 2nd dose

Moderna

14 days after 2nd dose

Oxford-AstraZeneca

15 days after 2nd dose

Johnson & Johnson/Janssen

14 days after single dose

The Government continues to evaluate wider policy on international travel as informed by the epidemiological situation and public health advice, including the possibility of future exemptions.

The provisions of the Act also allows for travellers to request a review of decisions relating to their quarantine; however this can only be undertaken once quarantine has begun.

All guests are responsible for the full cost of their stay in a quarantine facility, including their initial booking as well as any additional costs which might be incurred.

It should be noted that in some limited and exceptional cases, such as emergency repatriation of a citizen, a deferral on the requirement to pre-pay for quarantine while booking may be granted by the Department of Foreign Affairs. This deferral does not remove the responsibility of such guests to pay for the full cost of their quarantine in a designated facility.

Additionally, I understand that my colleague the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science is establishing a refund mechanism for students returning from Erasmus programmes who are required to undergo mandatory quarantine in a designated facility.

Neither I as Minister for Health nor my Department have a role in decisions relating to whether individual persons must enter mandatory quarantine or whether individual persons are exempted travellers.