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Cabinet approval to amend Health Act to include provisions for severe punishment for hotel quarantine violations; violation carries a fine of up to €5,000 and six months in prison

DUBLIN: The new amendment stipulates that passengers who violate the mandatory hotel quarantine will face a fine of €4,000 and up to a month in jail. The Cabinet approved the inclusion of the proposed provision in the Health Amendment Act 2021.

Under the new law, travellers from certain countries are required to book at a quarantine centre before arriving in Ireland. They must also produce a negative PCR test certificate taken three days prior to arrival here.

Adult travellers from high-risk countries will have to pay hotel bills of €2,000 and child €500. Passengers must stay in a quarantine center for 14 days from the time they arrive at the airport or port. They must also undergo a number of tests, of which exemptions are not allowed.

The amendment bill is due to be tabled today but is expected to be debated later next week. A draft bill was brought before Cabinet on Tuesday. The Taoiseach and Ministers had raised questions about various aspects of the legislation.

Continuous quarantine offenses are punishable by a fine of up to €5,000 and imprisonment for up to six months

Passengers who violate quarantine laws by trying to leave the centres or refusing to take a COVID test or behaving in a manner that endangers people inside the centres may result in severe fines and imprisonment.

The first offence carries a fine of up to €4,000 and/or up to a month in prison. The second offence carries a fine of no more than €4,500 and/or three months in prison. And the third offense carries a fine of €5,000 or up to six months in prison.

Failure to comply with the mandatory quarantine is an offense under the Act. Under the proposed bill, it is an offense to act in a manner that endangers the life and health of another person at the centre. Leaving the centre without permission can result in fines and imprisonment.

Truck drivers, airline staff, gardaí, members of the Defence Forces, members of either House of the Oireachtas and the European Parliament are excluded from the law.

Quarantine will be waived for those travelling for emergency medical reasons and for those brought into the country through arrest warrants and other legal reasons such as extradition proceedings. Officials with diplomatic immunity will also get exemptions. People will only be able to leave for emergency medical and humanitarian reasons. But the legislation does not specify the details of what these reasons are.

The cost of the quarantine bill is not mentioned in the legislation. However, there are indications that senior passengers will have to pay up to €2,000 and children up to €500.

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