The legal provisions to give the Government powers to establish mandatory quarantine hotels have been circulated to TDs ahead of the legislation going before the Dáil this week.

The proposals say travellers who have been in designated states within the 14 days prior to their arrival in Ireland will be obliged to undergo a 14-day period of quarantine. 

It will include a provision to allow exit from quarantine before the completion of 14 days if travellers return a 'not-detected' Covid-19 test upon arrival and again on day ten of quarantine.

There will also be a limited number of other circumstances under which travellers may leave quarantine such as "for medical treatment or other humanitarian reasons". 

Travellers who test positive for Covid-19 during quarantine will be required to remain in quarantine until they have satisfied criteria for release, which are line with the general HSE guidelines for those with Covid-19. 

Earlier, the Minister for Justice said she hopes that legislation for mandatory quarantine will be finalised in the next two weeks, adding that it "cannot be rushed".

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Helen McEntee said Ireland will be the first country in Europe to introduce these measures and efforts must be made to ensure that civil liberties and rights are protected.

We need your consent to load this rte-player contentWe use rte-player to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

Read more:
What we think we know about revised Living with Covid plan

The Special Committee on Covid-19 Response met this evening as the updating of the Government's plan on Living with Covid continues, ahead of its publication this week.

It is expected that a recommendation will be agreed later around the phased reopening of schools, which will then go to Cabinet for a final decision tomorrow.

It is a plan that is likely to set out the stages at which things will happen, but due to the volatility of the virus it will not contain many exact dates.

However, one date that is coming into view is 1 March, when it is anticipated that Leaving Cert students along with primary school pupils in junior and senior infants and those in first and second class will return to the classroom.

While the Taoiseach has said that nothing is set in stone, there is a widespread expectation that most of the current restrictions could remain in place until May.

However, there will be a review of the situation in April where small changes could be made.

The Government is also likely to extend the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and supports for businesses until the end of June.

There have been calls from the hospitality sector for more financial assistance given that it faces the prospect of being shut until mid-summer.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has accused those in Government of "dragging their heels" when it comes to tackling international travel.

Speaking this evening Ms McDonald reiterated her party's call for mandatory hotel quarantine for all non-essential international travel. 

Ms McDonald said that a failure to implement such measures will lead to people asking, "are they actually serious and how can they make such big asks of workers, of families, of business, of wider society while dragging their heels themselves". 

Ahead of the unveiling of the refined Living with Covid plan by Government tomorrow, Ms McDonald said the Government is walking a "very fine line" by asking people to follow public health guidelines, while "leaving the island very, very vulnerable to importing more strains of this virus".

She said calls for mandatory quarantine have been made for "almost a year at this stage and we now know that there are real dangers with allowing non-essential international travel". 

Current situation doesn't leave Govt with many options - WHO

The Executive Director of the World Health Organisation's Emergencies Programme, Dr Mike Ryan, has said the current number of Covid-19 cases in Ireland, of around a 1,000 a day, does not leave many choices for the Government.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Dr Ryan said although the positivity rate and rate of hospitalisations are dropping, "the signs are good, but not quite good enough maybe to give the Government the choices, the freedom of choice right now".

He said "getting that number down right now across the country has to be a goal for everybody", because rather than looking at dates, we need to look at numbers which he said drives decision making.

He said "what drives decision making is numbers, the number of cases, the number of deaths, the trajectory of the epidemic and it's in everyone's control at some level to drive that number down".

Dr Ryan said "if those numbers go down further, if the vaccines comes on stream quickly then it gives the Government and public health services much more choice down the line regards opening up".

He said "once we stop death and hospitalisations, this virus becomes a more normal threat and we can deal with it in a more rational and structured way and we will have more choices to open up".

Dr Ryan said we are already beginning to see that vaccination, particularly in vulnerable groups, is causing a decrease in hospital admissions and deaths in those groups.

He said these vaccines protect against severe illness and deaths, regardless of the virus causing the illness and regardless of what vaccine you receive.

The chief executive of the Licensed Vintners' Association said the 'Living with Covid' plan must provide clarity for publicans, many of whom have had their businesses shut since last March.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Donall O'Keeffe said: "There is a sense at this stage in our world that this is never ending. And we do need some clarity, some hope that this sacrifice will pay off and that our businesses will be able to reopen."

He said poor communication from Government is adding "ferocious stress" to the 7,000 publican families in the country, their staff, and their suppliers.

Mr O'Keeffe also said he would welcome any extension to trading hours as there is a huge consumer demand for late trading at the weekends.

Additional reporting Sinéad Crowley, Mícheál Lehane