New High Court challenge against mandatory hotel quarantine

Ms Kelly would have been legally permitted to exit quarantine on Monday, April 12, had she received a negative PCR test that day but hotel staff had failed to test her that day in line with their obligations under the relevant legislation, Mr French said.
New High Court challenge against mandatory hotel quarantine

A bus outside the Crowne Plaza hotel, Santry, near Dublin Airport, where travellers are staying during a mandatory 12-day quarantine. Picture: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

A woman has taken a High Court action aimed at being permitted to leave mandatory hotel quarantine.

The action, which came before the court on Monday night, is by an Irish woman, Emma Kelly, who has been in quarantine in the Crowne Plaza Airport Hotel in Dublin since she came home from Dubai on April 3. She came home to support her mother after her father, who is scheduled to undergo major cancer surgery shortly, was diagnosed with cancer the court heard.

Her solicitor Michael French said in an affidavit Ms Kelly is fully vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine and had received two negative Covid-19 tests before her departure for Ireland. She had also tested negative for Covid 19 when she underwent a further PCR test here on April 4, her second day in quarantine.

Ms Kelly would have been legally permitted to exit quarantine on Monday, April 12, had she received a negative PCR test that day but hotel staff had failed to test her that day in line with their obligations under the relevant legislation, Mr French said.

Ms Kelly had been informed she will not receive a PCR test until Tuesday April 13 and would only be permitted exit the hotel the following day, April 14, he said.

Ms Kelly had submitted three requests for review of her mandatory quarantine under the Health Act but those had been denied, the court heard.

Her proof of vaccination, her negative tests, her father’s medical diagnosis, and a letter from her doctor outlining her own medical matters concerns of anxiety and panic attacks, all constitute “strong humanitarian and exceptional” considerations warranting a termination of her “compulsory detention”, the solicitor said.

The appeals officers had irrationally and unfairly deemed her vaccinated status and clear test results as irrelevant to the issues they had to consider, he said. 

The appeals officers had said they are engaged in a proportionality exercise, weighing Ms Kelly’s medical and humanitarian interests against the States interests in protecting people from the risk of Ms Kelly transmitting the virus but that requires an individual assessment of the risk presented by the applicant, he said.

Other claims include the relevant provisions of the Health (Amendment) Act are repugnant to the Constitution on grounds including claims they fail to respect her rights to liberty, respect for family life, and dignity.

When Ms Kelly’s application for an inquiry into her detention under Article 40 of the Constitution came before Mr Justice Brian O’Moore at the High Court at 8.30pm on Monday, the judge raised issues concerning whether the quarantine amounts to “detention” for the purposes of Article 40.

The judge told Micheál P. O Higgins SC, for Ms Kelly, who had described the case as “profoundly urgent”, that he was adjourning the matter to Tuesday morning when the respondents – hotel operators Tifco Ltd and Tifco Management Services (Ireland) Ltd, and the Minister for Health - could outline their position.

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