DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson made a representation to Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly on behalf of a constituent who complained about having to pay a bill for mandatory hotel quarantine in the Republic, newly released correspondence shows.
The constituent sought to have the €900 bill waived due to her belief that she should have been allowed travel to Northern Ireland for quarantine after she arrived at Dublin Airport.
Mr Donaldson emailed Mr Donnelly to raise the case last July.
The DUP leader outlined the woman’s criticism of her experience and how she “feels that she was treated poorly like a second-class citizen”.
The constituent believed she would be able to undergo home quarantine in Northern Ireland and her son would be able to do the same in Scotland, having spent 11 nights and 12 days in Greece – an amber country under the UK’s rules for travel – on the way home.
Mr Donaldson says he was advised by the mother that the pair were stopped from proceeding through immigration as the stay in Greece was two days short of Irish rules surrounding travel within the previous 14 days. The UAE was on Ireland’s list of designated states at the time they were travelling in June.
Mr Donaldson wrote that on the mother’s “passenger locator form she had informed them that she was entering the UK and not once had she been told by the airport staff that she would not be allowed into her home state”.
There is said to have been an initial insistence in Ireland that her son would have to go into mandatory hotel quarantine (MHQ). However, staff saw from his documentation that he was vaccinated and he was therefore cleared for onward travel to Glasgow.
The mother was told she would have to go into MHQ and Mr Donaldson said she told him that “she has been very traumatised during the whole process”.
He summarised issues raised by the woman including “being forced to do hotel quarantine even though she is not an Irish citizen and had completed her 11 nights and 12 days in a non-designated state”.
He asked Mr Donnelly that the case be investigated “especially in relation to the bill that she received from your department dated 22nd June, for six nights in hotel quarantine at a price of €900”. Mr Donaldson asked “that this bill be waived due to the fact that my constituent believes that she should have been allowed to transit to Northern Ireland to complete her mandatory quarantine”.
Records released under the Freedom of Information Act do not indicate if the woman was offered a refund. Asked further about the case, a Department of Health statement said it “does not comment on individual cases”.
The hotel quarantine system ended in September after the last remaining countries were removed from the list of designated states to which it applied.
More than 10,000 people travelling from such countries had to complete a quarantine period in hotels as part of measures put in place in response to the Covid-19 surge at the start of the year.