Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane has said that Fine Gael cannot abdicate responsibility and hold up implementation of public health advice.
He said that public health advice must be implemented in full, and that Fine Gael causing division on the issue of mandatory hotel quarantine is risking the public’s sacrifices.
Teachta Cullinane said:
“The public health advice must be implemented in full. Fine Gael are unnecessarily causing division on this issue and holding up the expansion of hotel quarantine.
“In May, NPHET advised hotel quarantine for all overseas non-essential travel.
“As the case numbers come down, travel-related cases become more important.
“Fine Gael do not seem to understand that people living in Ireland are subject to extreme restrictions.
“It makes no sense that they would prevent a robust quarantine system to protect against important dangerous variants and more cases when the public have sacrificed so much to get to this point.
“Fine Gael has a history of only going half the distance. Half measures put all of that public sacrifice in jeopardy.
“There are very high case rates across many European and western states, with variants of concern and widespread transmission driving up cases across Europe and North America.
“The failure to quarantine those travelling in from countries with high levels of Covid and new Covid variants will see us all locked down for longer.
“Importation of the South African variant could have a serious impact on our vaccine programme.
“People travelling for non-essential purposes must quarantine. It is a temporary measure that was advised almost a year ago. Government cannot continue to drag its feet on this.
“Fine Gael can’t pick and choose which countries to quarantine based on anything other than public health advice. That is a recipe for disaster.
“Nobody wants these restrictions in place, but they are there for a reason – to control the virus.
“Quarantining non-essential travel is one measure that we can take to support the public’s efforts to reduce transmission, and hopefully reopen society in the coming weeks.
“Without a robust quarantine system, Fine Gael will create more risk of a surge in the virus. We know that it will take advantage of any weakness.
“When the numbers come under control and are lower in number, it becomes all the more important to clamp down on travel-related cases to prevent more community transmission.
“They did not get this right before and it would be unacceptable if Fine Gael continue to prevent robust public health measures from being in place.
“Fine Gael leadership is being reckless and gambling with the public’s health by preventing common sense measures being put in place on travel.
“If we are, for example, concerned that Irish students returning from Erasmus can’t afford quarantine, then you put a package of supports in place rather than allow a potentially dangerous variant in.
“It is clear that an effective quarantine system can be created that has adequate capacity and where people can only travel into Ireland when they have booked their place in quarantine.”