Mandatory hotel quarantine system 'is a shambles' - Cullinane


Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

09.24 14 Apr 2021


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Opposition parties have sharply criticised issues around the mandatory hotel quarantine system - describing it as a 'shambles'.

They've also warned of possible chaos in the coming days, as arrivals from over a dozen other countries will have to quarantine from tomorrow.

It was confirmed yesterday that the booking system for the quarantine hotels has been 'temporarily suspended' due to a lack of capacity.

The decision came less than 48 hours before 16 more countries - including the US, France and Italy - are added to the quarantine list.

A higher than expected number of 'walk-ins' - people who arrive in the country without having booked a quarantine stay - is said to be one of the main reasons behind capacity problems.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan today said capacity will be increased shortly, and noted that the system will 'change constantly'.

On Newstalk Breakfast, Sinn Féin's David Cullinane said the system is a 'shambles' at the moment.

Mandatory hotel quarantine system 'is a shambles' - Cullinane

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He said: "It’s all a result in my view of a lack of planning. It’s that plain and simple.

“Ten months ago, NPHET advocated that the Government should explore mandatory hotel quarantine. Since then on several occasions - in writing and at meetings - they have asked again and reiterated their concern that mandatory hotel quarantine was not in place.

“The lack of planning and pushback by Government has resulted in them rushing into this - not planning and not putting the infrastructure in place.

"Then we see we don’t have the capacity. I think the Government has to take responsibility for that."

Deputy Cullinane suggested the necessary capacity should have been there from day one, and the Government's own modelling should have shown there'd be extra rooms needed due to more countries being added to the list.

He said it's not good enough to say there’ll be more capacity soon, as there's a problem ‘right now’ that needs to be addressed.

Catherine Murphy, co-leader of the Social Democrats, also said the capacity problem should have been dealt with long before this point.

She told Newstalk: "It's not good enough for the minister just to come out and say this is paused.

"For a relatively small number of people, this could cause very serious problems.

"Saying it's paused sounds like something fairly benign, but for some people, this could be pretty chaotic."

She added that there's no shortage of hotel rooms in Ireland, and it's 'very difficult' to figure out why these delays and issues have arisen.

Main image: Members of the Irish Defence Forces escort passengers from high risk countries to their bus outside Terminal 2 in Dublin Airport. Photograph: Leah Farrell / RollingNews.ie

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