Woman in hotel quarantine asks High Court for inquiry into alleged unlawful detention
Court told Inbar Aviezer was vaccinated for Covid-19 in Israel and tested negative for virus
The woman’s counsel told the High Court that the decision to require her to quarantine at a hotel was in his client’s case “disproportionate.”
A woman who is 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 after counsel for the State asked for time to consider the application for an inquiry. Mr Justice Senan Allen on Friday directed that the Minister for Health be put on notice of the application.
John Gallagher BL, for the State, said his side needed time to consider the complex and important issues raised in the application. Counsel said a preliminary issue in the case would be if Ms Aviezer is actually detained as a matter of law.
The inquiry under Article 40.4.2 of the Constitution has been brought against the Minister, Tifco Ltd and Tifco Management Services (Ireland) Ltd, the owners and operators of the hotel where she currently is.
Conor Power SC, 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, including for meals. He said his client says she is being detained in a way that is not lawful.
Right to liberty
Counsel said it is Ms Aviezer’s case case that the quarantine regime amounts to a form of detention, which breaches her constitutional right to liberty.
He said it was accepted that the State must take measures to protect public health in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, he told the court that requiring his client to quarantine at a hotel was “disproportionate” in her case.
There was a failure, Mr Power said, to take into account important considerations including that his client has been vaccinated for Covid-19 and had tested negative for the disease twice in the last few days.
She was told on arrival that 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 there was an 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 and 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 jailed for a month, he said.
Ms Aviezer does not wish to break the law, the court heard, and has moved to Ireland to be with her fiancé. She is due to start a new job in the healthcare sector at the end of the month, he added.
His client - a citizen of Switzerland, Israel and the US - viewed Friday’s proceedings via video link. He said she did not know about the mandatory requirement to quarantine at a designated hotel before her arrival.
After considering Mr Power’s submissions, Mr Justice Allen questioned if Ms Aviezer could actually be considered to be detained and, if so, who was actually detaining her.
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.
He said he was prepared to hear the application on Saturday for an inquiry in the presence of lawyers for the State.