Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said that the authorities do not have the legal entitlement to hold a person at Dublin Airport indefinitely.
Mr Coveney said that the figure of 80 people who had arrived into the country recently without a negative PCR Covid test reflected less than one per cent of arrivals and that there was “very strong compliance” with the PCR test requirements.
The conditions for arriving into the country had changed, he said, and people could not arrive without a negative PCR test in the previous 72 hours.
“If you do you will be talking to the guards and face a fine of €2,000. That includes Irish people coming home,” he told RTÉ radio’s.
The gardaí may follow up in the cases of the 80 people who arrived recently, he said.
The Government was also working with the airlines who were getting stricter about allowing people to board without a negative PCR test.
The minister said that the viability of introducing new visa requirements for travel from countries such as South Africa and Brazil was under active consideration, as was mandatory quarantine for people who arrive without a negative PCR test result.
When asked about EU collective travel restrictions, Mr Coveney said that at the moment it was not possible “to move in concert on this island”, so it could be difficult to achieve collective agreement at EU level.
“Ideally, yes, I’d like to see collective action.”
It was too early yet to say how long the current restrictions would last, but the Cabinet was meeting next week and would try to give people certainty as early as possible.
As long as there were 2,000 cases per day and there was strain on the health system restrictions could not be eased, he said.
With regard to schools reopening, especially for special needs students, Mr Coveney said he would like to see all sides taking the advice of the public health experts.