Irish family describe 'litany of disasters' while staying in mandatory hotel quarantine

An Irish woman staying in mandatory hotel quarantine has said there is a "litany of disasters" wi...

09.23 28 Mar 2021

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Irish family describe 'litany...

Irish family describe 'litany of disasters' while staying in mandatory hotel quarantine


09.23 28 Mar 2021

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An Irish woman staying in mandatory hotel quarantine has said there is a "litany of disasters" with the system.

Michelle O'Dowd is spending 12 days at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Dublin with her husband and three children.

The family flew in from Perth in Australia, but had to stop off in Dubai, which is on the list of 33 'high-risk' countries.


The Irish Government launched a booking portal for the new system on Tuesday, which Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has claimed will be the most robust in the EU "by a country mile".

The O'Dowd family are moving home to Sligo where Michelle plans to work as a nurse once they have completed their quarantine.

On arrival at the hotel on Friday morning, Michelle said the quarantine conditions weren't fit for purpose, and last night they were upgraded to a suite.

However, speaking to Newstalk Breakfast with Susan Keogh, she said other families coming to the facility will have to stay in similar smaller rooms which is "massively concerning".

Irish family describe 'litany of disasters' while staying in mandatory hotel quarantine

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"In the rooms we were in yesterday, there's absolutely no room for any child to play, which is taking away their basic right as a child," she said.

"Protocols weren't followed properly from the minute we landed, there were no tests on arrival, it was just a litany of disasters."

Michelle said she has "absolutely no problem" with mandatory quarantine, rather she believes it should have been implemented a year ago and for people arriving from all countries.

"It's not mandatory quarantine I have an issue with, it has worked extremely well for Australia, and we have lived normal lives for the last year as a result of it," she said.

"It does really work but unfortunately it's been left too late here and you can't turn back time, but the issue I have with it is it's completely unjust and inequitable.

She added it is unfair that the family have to quarantine when arrivals from the US and Europe in Ireland yesterday are not required to do the same.

"I think we spent 45 minutes on the ground in Dubai, that's not including the time getting off the plane, walking through Dubai airport, my kids got a McDonald's, there was no one in McDonald's, and we sat on an empty plane," she explained.

"We could not be safer or more lower risk arriving in Dublin Airport yesterday.

"The issue I have is not about hotels, I think anything that's in the interests and safety of the public and anything that helps control COVID is absolutely essential but I just think this is unfair and unjust."

quarantine Michelle O’Dowd arriving at the Crown Plaza Hotel on Friday. Credit: Leon Farrell /

Michelle believes all countries should be on the mandatory quarantine list as "if it's a rule for one person, it should be the rule for everybody".

That is the only way that people will be deterred from travel, she added, as many are getting "creative" and finding new ways to enter the country.

The family had no time to change their travel plans from Australia and only had "50 hours' notice" that they would have to quarantine in Ireland.

"It was just horrific for the two days before travelling because of the lack of preparation we had and to be told we needed to come up with €6,000 in 48 hours, it was just all handled very badly," Michelle said.

They all arrived with negative PCR tests and Michelle said she was under the impression that they would all be tested again on 'day zero' in the hotel.

By testing negative for COVID-19 from the outset, she thought her children could be allowed to exercise and get fresh air on their first day in quarantine.

However, this was not the case, and she described it as "absolutely absurd" that testing would only be done on day one, the day after coming to the facility.

Families will be permitted three 15 minute breaks in a special area outside the hotel once their PCR tests come back negative in Ireland, Michelle explained, which "is not enough".

The Crowne Plaza hotel near Dublin Airport. Image: RollingNews

Her youngest daughter celebrates her ninth birthday today and the hotel is providing a cake, but the family thought they would be able to mark the day from their home in Sligo after coming from "such a low-risk country".

"We are moving home from Perth, the safest place in the whole entire world as regards COVID," she said.

"I think it's completely unfair that we have to quarantine when thousands of other arrivals in Ireland who are much higher risk than us do not have to.

She "absolutely accepts" they will be in the facility for 12 days, but says people in similar situations should be given adequate accommodation from the outset, such as suites for families.

"This is what a family should be given on arrival, there should be nothing less than this because there's room for my kids to actually move and play and this is what all families should be offered, an apartment or a suite where children can actually play," Michelle said.

"The system is still not perfect, there's lots of issues with social distancing on the coach, the staff are in lots of huddles, and to me, I didn't see the social distancing done properly.

"I thought there was inadequate PPE worn, the testing wasn't done, so there were lots of other issues, but it was the lack of space for our physical and mental health and my children's health that tipped me over the edge.

"This suite is very comfortable and we're happy to quarantine for the next ten or 12 days, however long it takes."

Main image: The O'Dowd family. Credit: Michelle O'Dowd

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Australia Covid-19 Mandatory Hotel Quarantine Mandatory Quarantine Mandatory Quarantine Ireland Michelle O'Dowd Travel Travel Restrictions

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