Mandatory quarantine plans being ‘urgently’ put in place

Measures being worked on for people travelling into State without negative PCR test

Arrivals area at Dublin Airport. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Government officials were last night said to be “urgently” working on the legal and operational arrangements for mandatory quarantining for some passengers travelling from abroad.

Under the plans there will be mandatory quarantining at a designated facility for passengers who cannot provide a negative pre-departure Covid-19 test as well as all those travelling from Brazil and South Africa due to new variants of the virus there.

Other passengers will be required by law to quarantine at home. It is hoped the measures will be in place early next month.

The Department of Health has been tasked with most of the work. It is liaising with the departments of justice, transport and foreign affairs. The Attorney General is advising on any potential legal issues that arise. Applying mandatory quarantine measures to EU or UK citizens requires changes to primary legislation.

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‘Clarity’ needed

Sinn Féin's health spokesman David Cullinane said "clarity" was needed from the Government on whether primary legislation or regulations would be needed.

“Even though we feel that what was proposed falls short, we obviously need to put all of these protections in place as quickly as possible,” he said.

“If primary legislation is needed, let’s get on with it. If regulations are needed, the Ministers should put them in place.”

In a statement, the Government said: “It will take a period of time to implement the measures announced by Cabinet two days ago.”

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said yesterday the system of enforcement of quarantine was still being “worked through”.

She said gardaí would call to addresses that air passengers had listed on their locator forms to check if they were home, without entering the premises. She said there would be a “legal obligation” on people to remain at home.

“We won’t have 100 per cent of people coming in checked because I don’t think we need to,” she told LMFM. “I don’t think that would be possible.”

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times