High Court rules detention of woman in hotel quarantine is lawful

High Court rules detention of woman in hotel quarantine is lawful

Pictured are members of the Irish defence forces standing guard while wearing face masks at the entrance to the Crowne Plaza Hotel Santry, Dublin. Photograph: Leah Farrell / RollingNews.ie

The detention of a South African woman in hotel quarantine after she flew into the country earlier this month has been found to be lawful by the High Court.

Mr Justice Brian O'Moore ruled on Saturday that the detention of Charlene Heyns, who flew into the country on April 9, was in accordance with legislation requiring mandatory hotel quarantine for incoming travellers from certain countries.

The matter was considered by Justice O’Moore following a legal challenge by Ms Heyns.

Counsel for Ms Heyns had argued that she had been deprived of fair procedures, that the certificate of detention was inadequate, that the State failed to consider the vaccination status of Ms Heyns, who had received one dose of a two-dose Covid-19 vaccine.

It was also argued that the review process of Ms Heyns detention was unsatisfactory and unlawful.

The legal challenge was taken against hotel operators Tifco Ltd and Tifco Management Services (Ireland) Ltd, and the Minister for Health.

Justice O’Moore, however, dismissed the challenge and ruled that her detention was not unlawful or in breach of the constitution.

“I have decided that Ms Heyns is being detained in accordance with law”, Justice O’Moore said in his decision issued on Saturday.

He said he gave his decision “as soon as possible” without providing a full judgement or reasons given the fact that Ms Heyns was approaching her tenth day in hotel quarantine.

If Ms Heyns, a healthcare worker, tests negative for Covid-19 on Monday, she will be released from the hotel quarantine system.

“Any delay in giving my decision could well render the whole enquiry process meaningless,” Justice O’Moore said, adding that he will deal with any outstanding issues next Friday 23 April.

The mandatory hotel quarantine system has faced several legal challenges since it was introduced in March as a public health measure to keep Covid-19 variants from being imported into the country.

As of Friday, close to 400 people had completed mandatory hotel quarantine, with 18 people testing positive for the virus, of which four were 'probable variants of concern'.

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