Government examining mandatory hotel quarantining for incoming travellers

NPHET advised the Government that mandatory quarantine for people entering the republic was necessary to help stem the spread of Covid-19, eight months ago.
Government examining mandatory hotel quarantining for incoming travellers

Places like Australia and New Zealand implemented the practice months ago to some success and the UK government is now also examining how they could implement similar restrictions.

The Government are examining how hotel quarantine for travellers entering the state would work.

Nphet advised the Government that mandatory quarantine for people entering the republic was necessary to help stem the spread of Covid-19, eight months ago.

Places like Australia and New Zealand implemented the practice months ago to some success and the UK government is now also examining how they could implement similar restrictions.

There have been growing calls for such restrictions from the public and opposition politicians in recent weeks, while flights from places like Sofia and Gran Canaria continue to arrive in Dublin.

The only requirement is that passengers present a negative PCR test from the previous 72 hours, which Nphet warned will miss 40% of cases.

Minister of State with responsibility for International Travel, Hildegarde Naughton says the Government are now assessing how the practice would work.

"Government are looking at a number of measures in order to increase the requirements around international travel including mandatory quarantine, as well as looking at a temporary suspension of visa-free travels for certain countries," she said.

"There are a number of considerations on the table in relation to restricting people travelling into the country, what you want to do is create a situation where people are not travelling into Ireland, unless it's absolutely essential travel.

"We also have to balance as well, in relation to our supply chains, we have our haulage sector which is absolutely critical that we keep goods and vaccines and medicines, moving in and out of the country.

"So we need to ensure that whatever measures we bring in have a solid legal basis and are workable.

"We cannot quarantine essential transport workers but we are looking at quarantine in relation to how it would work in practical terms, in relation to how you would identify these designated hotels or accommodation, and how it would work in practice."

Minister of State with responsibility for International Travel, Hildegarde Naughton says the government are now accessing how the practice would work. Picture: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Minister of State with responsibility for International Travel, Hildegarde Naughton says the government are now accessing how the practice would work. Picture: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Government ministers have previously said the practice would not work due to the open border with the north, however, many argue that any and all options for stemming the flow of the virus must be examined.

"We have people who can fly in through Belfast and coming into the south," Ms Naughton added.

"Universal quarantining would mean that we need a sealed-border and know the practicalities and the political realities around that.

"So we would have to ensure that we have our essential transport workers our pilots, aviation crew, our hauliers, essential workers who will be needed to ensure that our supply chains keep moving.

"We also have to look at issues around how you transport people from our ports, our airports and to these designated hotels and accommodation facilities, and the security around that, you're effectively denying people their liberty, we need to be very careful in relation to how we do that.

"Who pays for it, is it the state? If somebody arrives in the state and doesn't have the means to pay for it themselves?

"What happens in that scenario is somebody refuses to go to quarantine? All of these issues have to be worked out, but we do have the glaring gap in relation to people being able to come in through the north."

It was pointed out to Ms Naughton that Dublin has not been sharing passenger data with Belfast despite requests from the Northern Ireland Executive.

"There is ongoing communication and engagements between minister Donnelly and Minister (Robin) Swann and officials from both departments north and south, the Department of Health are engaging on this, we do want to reach a solution in relation to their sharing of data, but we have to also comply with GDPR obligations, so there is work ongoing," she said.

"We want a solution in relation to that but it has to be effective, and we have to ensure that we protect people's data and privacy and understand how that data will be shared in the north, there are all of these legal considerations, which are ongoing and we are working very hard to find a solution."

More in this section

War of Independence Podcast

A special four-part series hosted by Mick Clifford

Available on
www.irishexaminer.com/podcasts

Commemorating 100 years since the War of Independence

Home Delivery
logo-ie

HOME DELIVERY SERVICE

Have the Irish Examiner delivered to your door. No delivery charge. Just pay the cover price.