Irish Examiner view: Too early to ease controls

Irish Examiner view: Too early to ease controls

We must remain vigilant when it comes to international travel into Ireland. Photograph: Leah Farrell /

The pandemic, among many things, provokes a version of Donald Rumsfeld's philosophy around known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns. By its very quirkiness, it underlines that there are things we can control, things we can't control, and things we don't even know about that we need to control. 

One of the things we need to control but have not done as tightly as we might have is international travel into Ireland. This may not be a primary source of new infections but that almost 250 incoming flights this year had at least one confirmed case cannot be dismissed. That up to 80% of close contacts on some planes have not been traced can only add to those concerns. Those questions darken as low-wage food businesses brought in workers from countries with higher infection rates than ours.

This policy had an impact beyond any capacity to spread infection. It undermined the kind of solidarity so freely shown by the great majority of people. That solidarity was, and is to a large degree, undermined by an official reticence to impose lockdown isolation on arrivals into the country. That it took more than a year to be in a position to control arrivals in a way that minimised risk was unacceptable and frustrating.

There is an impression that the pandemic is on the wane but for the moment that can only be an impression. Because of that, it would be premature to suspend whatever preparations or legal changes are necessary to better control those arriving on this island by air or sea. 

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