The Irish Government, via the Department of Health, has published a tender document seeking bidders to provide hotel rooms, transport, security, and healthcare monitoring for the purpose of providing mandatory hotel quarantine in Ireland into 2022, Gript can reveal. The existence of the tender suggests that, whatever it might say in public, the Irish Government is at least preparing for Covid restrictions on travel to endure for much longer than originally envisaged.
The tender document, recently published, seeks up to 1,600 hotel rooms to be made available for the purpose of detaining inward travellers. Under the terms of the tender document, services provided would commence in September of this year, 2021, and may be extended for a term of up to 12 months, which would mean that mandatory quarantine would still be in place in September 2022.
The successful bidder will not be required to provide all the services listed in the tender, but will be expected to subcontract some of those services – for example, security – out to others. The tender will be evaluated on the basis of cost, meaning that in theory, the department wants to award the tender to the lowest competitive bidder who meets all of the other criteria. However, the Department says in the document that it estimates that the total cost of the contract could be up to €22million, over the course of a full year.
The fact that the state is considering an extension of mandatory quarantine into 2022 will be news to many people, and distressing for thousands working in the travel and aviation industries, as well as those working in the tourist sector. Mandatory quarantine, and other travel restrictions, have been widely blamed in recent weeks for reversals in the aviation sector, with the closure of Stobart Air, the Aer Lingus regional provider, and a withdrawal by Aer Lingus of some services from Shannon Airport on a permanent basis.
Mandatory Quarantine would also seem to be at odds with the European Union’s strategy on travel, which envisages so-called “green passes” for people who are either vaccinated, or who have provided a negative test result prior to travel.
The tender may prove to be good news, however, for Ireland’s struggling hotel sector, as the winning bidder will be guaranteed a substantial income at a time when hotels have been forcibly closed by the Government.