The Government's plan to use hotels for the mandatory quarantining of some international arrivals could face delays.

It is understood the Cabinet heard this morning that primary legislation will be needed to establish the system.

The Government has this evening insisted that it will have legislation ready within weeks.

Under plans announced last week, those arriving here from Brazil and South Africa will spend 14 days in mandatory quarantine.

Other countries could be added to the list at a later stage as part of an effort keep variants of Covid-19 out of the country.

Those arriving without a negative Covid test are also subject to this rule, but they could leave quarantine should they complete two negative tests within five days of entering the State.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly also told colleagues that the rules around quarantine will apply to international visitors who enter the State via Northern Ireland.

Guidelines around the nutrition and exercise requirements of those staying in mandatory quarantine will also have to be drawn up.

In the meantime, almost all arrivals will have to quarantine at home or at an agreed address after entering the country.

A failure to do this could result in a €2,500 fine or six months in prison.


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The Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, said it will take "some time" to finalise the rules for hotel quarantine because it involves "primary legislation".

Speaking on RTÉ's Prime Time, she said City West Hotel has been identified as one location that would be suitable for quarantining.

"All of the logistics are being worked through and will be ready to go once the legislation has been put in place", she said. "We need to get it right."

Ms McEntee said gardaí will not be enforcing quarantining at hotels and that it is not about "locking people in hotel rooms and gardaí managing them".

It is important that people's civil liberties and rights are supported and protected, she said.

The minister also said that in the next two days, measures will be finalised and signed off on by Minister Donnelly, that would allow gardaí to call to the homes of passengers to ensure they are quarantining.

She said the checks would be carried out on those who recently arrived into the country and provided an address on arrival.

"It will now be a legal obligation [to quarantine]" Ms McEntee said.

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Labour Leader Alan Kelly said it is "crazy" that legislation for mandatory quarantine could be weeks away, and that he wants the Oireachtas to sit all next week if necessary.

"The fact that they are only realising the complexities of it now is potentially a calamitous mistake," he said.

Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty described the situation as a "shambles" and said the Government "need to get their act together".

"The public are making massive sacrifices", he said. "The least they should expect is competence."

In announcing the plans for mandatory quarantine on 26 January, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that anyone entering the State from overseas, with some exceptions, will be legally required to quarantine.

However, he conceded that parts of the new system would take several weeks to become operational as legislation will be needed to underpin the move to hold Irish and EU citizens without a negative Covid test in hotels.

There were 280 €100 fines issued at Dublin Airport from Thursday to Sunday for non-essential travel. New fines of €500 came into force yesterday.