Woman in hotel quarantine claims she is being unlawfully detained

High Court to hear application for inquiry into legality of woman's detention on Saturday
Woman in hotel quarantine claims she is being unlawfully detained

Inbar Aviezer has been quarantining at the Holiday Inn Express Hotel, near Dublin Airport since Wednesday after taking a flight from Israel. File picture

A woman who is currently quarantining in a Dublin hotel after her arrival into the State has asked the High Court for an inquiry into what she claims amounts to unlawful detention.

The application has been brought by lawyers representing Inbar Aviezer, who under the requirements of the Health (Amendment) Act 2021 has been quarantining at the Holiday Inn Express Hotel, near Dublin Airport since Wednesday after taking a flight from Israel.

The matter will be heard on Saturday morning after counsel for the State asked for time to consider the application for an inquiry.

At the High Court on Friday evening, Mr Justice Senan Allen directed that the minister for health be put on notice of the application.

John Gallagher, counsel for the State, said his side needed time to consider the complex and important issues raised in Ms Aviezer's application.

Counsel said that a preliminary issue in the case will be if Ms Aviezer is actually detained as a matter of law.

The inquiry under Article 40.4.2 of the constitution into the legality of her detention has been brought against the minister for health, and Tifco Ltd and TIifoc Management Services (Ireland) Ltd, the owners and operators of the hotel where she is currently located.

Seeking the inquiry under Article 40 of the Irish Constitution, Conor Power, counsel for Ms Aviezer, said that while "the doors of her hotel room are unlocked", she must stay in her room for most of the day, and she receives her meals in the room.

Counsel said his client says she is being detained, and that the detention is not lawful.

It is very much her case that the quarantine regime amounts to a form of detention, which breaches his client's constitutional right to liberty, counsel said.

It was accepted that the State must take measures to protect public health in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, counsel also told the court the decision to require her to quarantine at a hotel was in Ms Aviezer's case "disproportionate."

Counsel said there was a failure to take into account important considerations including that client has been vaccinated in Israel and had tested negative for Covid-19 on two occasions in the last few days.

On arrival, she was told she would have to quarantine for up to 14 days, and would have to pay €1,850 to cover the costs of her stay at a designated hotel.

Counsel said she used the appeal mechanism under the quarantine regulations, but her appeal was not successful.

If she were to leave the hotel, she faces the prospect of being arrested by the gardaí and being brought back to the hotel.

Anyone who fails or refuses to undergo the mandatory quarantine could end up receiving a criminal record as well as being fined and or being jailed for a month, counsel said.

His client does not wish to break the law, the court heard.

His client, who has moved to Ireland to be with her fiancée, is due to start a new job in the healthcare sector at the end of the month, counsel added.

His client is a citizen of Switzerland, Israel and the US. She viewed Friday's proceedings via an-line video link.

When she arrived in Ireland, she did not know about the mandatory requirement to quarantine at a designated hotel, counsel said.

After considering counsel's submissions, Mr Justice Allen, who questioned if Ms Aviezer could actually be considered to be detained, and if so, who was actually detaining her, said he was prepared to hear the application for an inquiry in the presence of lawyers for the State.

The judge also expressed his scepticism, without determining the issue, to the proposition that the hotel owner and operator are in fact detaining any person subject to the mandatory quarantine.

The hearing of the application to bring an inquiry will commence on Saturday morning.

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