New quarantine law: Gardaí can call to homes but not enter

AGSI says it is still awaiting guidance on new regime which includes fines of up to €2,500

Passengers who arrive into the State must now quarantine at home under new regulations signed by the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly.

Mr Donnelly signed the regulations on Wednesday night to introduce a system of mandatory quarantine for arrivals into the State with the new rules coming into force since midnight.

A spokesman for Mr Donnelly said gardaí now had the power to call to people’s homes to ensure they were quarantining but they could not enter the person’s home.

Hospital Report

Antoinette Cunningham, the general secretary of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) said on Thursday evening her organisation’s members were still waiting for guidance on the enforcement of mandatory quarantining in homes.


She said that AGSI became aware through media reports that gardaí could now call to the homes of people who are quarantining.

Ms Cunningham told The Irish Times: “As of this evening we have not received operational instructions or guidelines on these regulations and await that from Garda management.”

Under the regulations, passengers who arrive from any destination must quarantine for 14 days at the address specified on their Passenger Locator Form, with penalties for non-compliance. These penalties are a fine of up to €2,500 or 6 months in prison, or both.

"The clear Government and public health advice is that everybody should avoid non-essential travel completely. Last night, I signed additional regulations that puts mandatory quarantine at home on a statutory footing. All travellers into the country must now adhere to staying at home and enforcement will be a matter for An Garda Síochána, " Mr Donnelly said.

"Additionally, our public health advice is that people subjected to mandatory quarantine should self-isolate within their homes to assist in protecting those around them. Further work on additional legislation to implement mandatory quarantine at a designated facility for those arriving from countries with variants of concern, such as Brazil and South Africa is being progressed and will be implemented as soon as possible."

There are limited exemptions from quarantine for essential reasons, but only as strictly necessary, this is not a general exemption. Those exempted are expected to follow quarantine at all other times. Exemptions include workers for repair and maintenance of critical infrastructure.

Those who are exempted also include TDs and Senators, members of the European parliament, local authority members, gardaí, members of Defence Forces, pilots, maritime crew, someone travelling on humanitarian grounds, someone travelling for legal obligations.

Prior to the signing of the regulations Taoiseach Micheál Martin had said there were “legal issues” that arose with home quarantining.

On Thursday night, a Government spokesman expanded on this saying the legal issues included “ensuring appropriate enforcement measures.”

He added that this is why the regulations “refer to quarantine in the home/place of residence, not within a specific room in the home/place of residence.”

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times