Mandatory hotel quarantine is controversial for good reason

Depriving people of liberty is not guaranteed to have any huge effect on virus

A passenger is escorted to a bus to be taken to the Crowne Plaza hotel:  The public was tricked into believing quarantine would lead to a loosening of our current exhausting lockdown. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Getty

A passenger is escorted to a bus to be taken to the Crowne Plaza hotel: The public was tricked into believing quarantine would lead to a loosening of our current exhausting lockdown. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Getty

Nobody ought to be surprised that mandatory border quarantine has emerged as one of the most emotive issues in Ireland’s response to Covid-19. This is a liberal European country. The rationale for involuntarily depriving people of their liberty should never be considered a slam dunk here. If ever it is, then we may be in greater trouble in that moment than we realise.

As much as it is a public health, legal or economic issue, the mandatory isolation by the State of law-abiding people is also a cultural issue in this part of the world. It is facile to point to other regions where it is historically considered more acceptable, such as parts of Asia, and argue that no other justification is required for its similar implementation here.

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