The President has signed into law a Bill that will make hotel quarantine mandatory for people arriving in Ireland from certain countries.
President Michael D Higgins signed the Health (Amendment) Bill 2021 this morning.
The aim of the regulation is to prevent COVID-19 from being further transmitted due to international travel.
People arriving in the State from 33 countries will have to quarantine in a designated facility for two weeks.
People arriving from those nations must self-quarantine for a full 14 days, while those arriving from other countries can stop quarantining sooner if they receive a negative PCR test result five days after their arrival here.
Under the new legislation, anyone who does not adhere to the rules will be fined €4,000 and face a possible month in prison.
Having considered the Health (Amendment) Bill 2021 the President has signed the Bill and it has accordingly become law.
— President of Ireland (@PresidentIRL) March 7, 2021
The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly welcomed the news, saying that the Bill "is another important element of Ireland’s defence against COVID-19".
"The operationalisation of designated quarantine facilities is being advanced on a cross-departmental basis as a matter of priority,” he said.
“The next step in this process is to finalise and sign a contract with a service provider. I anticipate this will happen shortly, ” he added.
Last month, an additional 13 'high-risk' countries were added to the mandatory 14-day quarantine list.
The current list of 33 nations on the list is: Angola, Argentina, Austria, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Eswatini, French Guiana, Guyana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Republic of South Africa, Rwanda, Seychelles, Suriname, Tanzania, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Calls for mandatory quarantine for all travellers
Meanwhile, there have been calls for the army to be brought in to police quarantine hotels.
However, the measures have been criticised by opposition parties, with the Labour Party stating that the public want more stringent measures around mandatory quarantine for travellers arriving here.
People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith has also said the Government's revised 'Living with COVID' plan is 'half-assed', as it has big gaps on travel.
These comments were followed by advice from the WHO's Dr David Nabarro who said last week that Ireland should consider mandatory quarantine for people arriving from all countries.
Dr David Nabarro, the WHO's special envoy on COVID-19, told Newstalk mandatory quarantine is an important measure as the virus may not be detectable when a swab test is done before travel.
He added it could be "embarrassing" if people travelled here from a 'red-listed' country via another country that isn't on the mandatory quarantine list.