Justice Minister: Not possible to monitor 100% of people quarantining at home

Helen McEntee insists travel regulations are robust and said if people do not present to gardaí when contacted, they may face prosecution
Justice Minister: Not possible to monitor 100% of people quarantining at home

Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD sought to defend new quarantining rules. File Photo: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

It will not be possible to monitor 100% of people quarantining at home after returning from abroad, the Justice Minister has conceded.

But, Helen McEntee insists that new travel regulations will hold because you can "safely assume" someone is not quarantining if they don't answer the door when contacted by gardaí.

Speaking on LMFM radio, the justice minister sought to defend new quarantining rules.

In some cases, people traveling from certain countries will be asked to quarantine at home rather than at specific facilities. Gardaí won't be asked to go into these houses, and those checks will be included as part of their overall checks of licensed premises, for example.

Ms McEntee said, "To give an example, if somebody doesn't make themselves known coming to the door or making themselves aware to the gardaí when they call a number of times, then you can assume that somebody is not quarantining at home or they're not at the address that they have given, and that is when Gardai can take action."

When it was pointed out that there would be no evidence whatsoever of a person breaching the law if they do not come to the door, the minister replied: "You're supposed to be at home, you are supposed to be able to present yourself. If you are not doing this, if you cannot do this, then a garda can safely assume that you're not either at the residence that you say you're at or that you're not quarantining.

"We need our gardaí, to be able to work with a certain level of discretion but it's very clear under health regulation, as new guidelines are introduced and mandatory restrictions are put in place.

"If you are required by law to quarantine in a certain location and you are not there or gardai cannot locate you there, then an assumption can be taken, you are not quarantining where you said you would."

She added: "We won't have 100% of people coming in checked because I don't think we need to, but I don't think that would be possible.

When pressed, the minister says she believes a prosecution under this type of action would hold up in court and added that travel restrictions alone will not help Ireland see off the virus.

"Travel is not the silver bullet here in terms of trying to manage this virus. When we had our meeting with the chief medical officer and health experts, they stressed that travel is not the only issue here and it's important that we continue to adhere to all the other rules.

"The message to people and that I want to get across to people today, is that you cannot travel. It is against the law to travel unless you are a member of An Garda Síochána doing work, a haulier, or travelling for essential reasons."

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