Travel and a global pandemic


Sir, – The Irish Times makes frequent reference to our “quarantine regulations”. What quarantine regulations?

If you’re talking about the requirement for incoming travellers to fill in a form on arrival to say where they’ll be staying. that’s hardly quarantine, particularly when there’s no effective follow-up and, it would appear, none planned.

A form, no matter how official, is not an effective mechanism.

We need look no further than New Zealand to see what a proper quarantine regime, backed by decisive, effective government, can do to halt the virus. And the effects – Ireland: 1,746 deaths to date; New Zealand: 22 deaths to date.

Our Government, and its advisers, failed us on Cheltenham, on nursing homes, and on visiting Italian rugby fans, and is now doing so in relation to incoming travellers, American ones in particular.

Covid-19 was originally brought to Ireland and spread by incoming travellers. We now look like repeating the exercise, which means that all the sacrifices of ordinary people in recent months, including in particular us over-seventies, will have been in vain.

We might as well have been out socialising, shopping, and giving our grandchildren big hugs. – Yours, etc,



Co Waterford.

Sir, – The comment by the acting chief medical officer that mandatory quarantine is “desirable” only adds to the total confusion on this whole travel debacle (“Mandatory quarantine ‘desirable’ amid concern over flights from abroad”, News, July 13th). Is it any wonder that some visitors are ignoring the “recommended” advice from the Government to self-quarantine for 14 days on arrival .

As long as something is “desirable” or “optional”, and is not being policed properly, then this ongoing danger to our citizens is going to persist . – Yours, etc,



Co Wicklow.

Sir, – A letter writer claims, unironically, that for advice to work it needs to be mandatory and policed (July 14th). It isn’t difficult to see how the last five months has led an educated person to call for the State to compel people to follow advice (irrespective of how good we think that advice may be).

In effect, the Government took a two-pronged approach to the coronavirus pandemic. On the one hand, it offered advice on how to protect ourselves and those around us (such as keeping a distance, regular hand-washing, etc) and on the other, it introduced compulsory measures (such as the closure of schools, 2km restrictions, etc). Perhaps because they were so dramatic and life-changing, the compulsory measures are now given almost total credit for the suppression of Covid-19, while the ability of people to follow health advice of their own volition is seen as suspect. There is insufficient evidence to draw such conclusions.

By discounting the effect of people freely adhering to sensible public health advice, we not only betray a deeply negative view of our citizenry, we are also drawn inevitably to the conclusion that for anything good to be achieved, people must be coerced. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Sir, – I’m Irish, I live in Germany, and most of my family lives in Ireland. In the current public debate about regulations and quarantine, etc, I hear an undertone of negativity about “tourists” and “unnecessary travel”. I‘m missing any mention of people like myself – and there must be thousands of us – who live abroad and haven’t seen most of their family since last year. I would like to spend a week in Ireland in August, seeing my cousins and friends, and only if they’re happy to see me. I wouldn’t be visiting tourist sites or partying, I would wear a mask on public transport, and in shops and restaurants, as I’ve been doing here in Bonn since the end of April. Surely this is not frivolous and unnecessary travel! – Yours, etc,





Sir, – I see from your photograph (June 14th) that the members of the HSE public awareness campaign team for Covid-19 at Dublin Airport have a bottle of sanitiser on the table but no face coverings and no social distancing. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 24.