Dubai returnee Emma Kelly released from Irish quarantine after legal challenge

Irish government suspends hotel room bookings for four days to boost supply

Dubai returnee Emma Kelly has been released from hotel quarantine after bringing a case in Ireland's High Court. Alamy
Dubai returnee Emma Kelly has been released from hotel quarantine after bringing a case in Ireland's High Court. Alamy

A woman who returned from Dubai to Ireland was released from hotel quarantine after launching legal action.

Emma Kelly had been in quarantine since arriving in Dublin from the UAE on April 3 to care for her mother while her father underwent surgery for cancer.

Ms Kelly, who is fully inoculated against Covid-19 with AstraZeneca’s vaccine, could legally have been released on Monday, but she said hotel staff failed to provide a Covid-19 test that would have allowed it.

Her lawyers sought a special sitting of the High Court to secure her release.

The court ordered that Ms Kelly be tested for Covid-19, with an expedited analysis of her swab. She was released on Tuesday evening after the result was negative.

But the case is still before the court, with a judge ordering an inquiry into the circumstances of her detention. It will be heard on Wednesday.

Ms Kelly is one of five people challenging the legality of Ireland’s hotel quarantine system.

Ireland suspended bookings for the system for four days while it works to increase the availability of rooms.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said airlines would be asked to check whether passengers had a pre-booked place before allowing them to board flights.

“The hotel quarantine system has only been in place for 18 days, believe it or not. We have gone from 33 countries up to, I think, 71 countries now. On a precautionary basis the department has paused the bookings to make sure we have the capacity,” he told broadcaster RTE.

“There is still a high level of walk-ins, which shouldn’t be happening.

“There is significant additional capacity coming in on Monday. We’re going up from about 650 rooms to about 960. And then the following Monday again a lot more coming online, we will be above 1,300.”

On Tuesday, the government said it was considering allowing fully vaccinated passengers to quarantine at home.

Updated: April 14, 2021 02:22 PM

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