Northern Ireland news

Stormont Executive say 'work is continuing' on potential use of quarantine hotels for international travellers

The British government said passengers arriving into the UK from countries on the travel ban list will have to quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days

THE Executive last night said "work is continuing" on the potential use of quarantine hotels for international travellers arriving into Northern Ireland.

It comes after the British government said passengers arriving into the UK from countries on the travel ban list from February 15 will have to quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days.

Thousands of hotel rooms near airports are being booked by the government as part of new quarantine rules for international arrivals.

It is part of tougher rules aimed at slowing the spread of new coronavirus strains first identified in South Africa and Brazil, which scientists believe may be more infectious and may reduce the effectiveness of vaccines.

But it remained unclear last night if the quarantine hotel plan will be introduced for passengers arriving into Northern Ireland.

A spokeswoman for the Executive said: "Cross-departmental work is continuing on supported isolation arrangements for international travellers, including the potential use of hotels".

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said earlier this week that hotel quarantining measures for travellers arriving from specific countries where there is an increased risk of the Covid-19 variant, including Brazil and South Africa, should be in place by the middle of February.

It is understood that 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 Republic.

The quarantine hotel scheme in England is expected to run until at least the end of March, with officials seeking to reserve 28,000 hotel rooms for use over that period.

It has been reported that travellers staying at quarantine hotels will be asked to pay around £80 per night.

They will be required to take a Covid-19 test on both day two and day eight of their stay, with a negative result needed in order for them to leave.

Travellers will be given three meals a day via room service.

Accor, which has hotels across the UK, including several near Heathrow Airport in London, said discussions with the British government are "well under way".

A spokesman for the chain told PA: "We have had confirmation that managed quarantine facilities will come into effect from February 15 and we have received the commercial specifications for our hotels.

"Discussions are well under way with government, and our hotels stand ready to support the government's call for quarantine in order to enable safe travel for Brits and essential international travel in these challenging Covid times, just as we have done in other countries."

Thistle Hotels also confirmed it has asked to be involved.

However, it is believed some hotels have asked to be excluded due to fears among catering and security staff about getting infected, and the impact on insurance policies.

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