January 17, 2021
Lack of effective quarantine for international arrivals ‘a serious public health risk’ – Darren O’Rourke TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Transport, Darren O’Rourke TD, has said that the government’s failure to implement an effective quarantine regime for international arrivals is completely unacceptable and is undermining the sacrifices people are making to combat the virus.

The Meath East TD was responding to comments by Minister  for Health Stephen Donnelly today who said that a statutory regime and mandatory quarantine were deemed disproportionate in the past and were only “being looked at” now again.

Teachta O’Rourke said;

“We have very clear information that our quarantine regime for international arrivals is ineffective. Passenger Locator Forms are followed up in a fraction of cases. Of those that are followed up, a fraction again generate useful information. We know, too, that passenger data is not shared north/south. The system is completely inadequate. 

“Minister Stephen Donnelly’s public comments today, echo those of his colleague Minister Eamon Ryan, and reflect a government that is failing to grasp the scale of the current crisis.

“To suggest that advice received some months ago, in relation to mandatory quarantine and putting the regime on a statutory footing, is relevant now is simply not credible. 

“To suggest, under pressure, that the government are “looking into” stricter quarantine measures is similarly incredible. We are in the eye of the storm. We need immediate action. 

“Sinn Féin have repeatedly called for stricter protocols for those arriving into our ports and airports, but the government have adopted a head in the sand approach.

“The lack of action by government on international arrivals is posing a serious health risk.

“It is undermining our efforts and is also undermining the approach in the north, where a travel ban on sixteen countries is now in place. It flies in the face of the sacrifices the public and our health professionals are making each day.

“We need to do everything possible to drive down infection numbers here and restrictions on those entering the State form a crucial piece of that.

“Passengers should be required to show proof of their negative PCR test before they board a plane. Testing post-arrival should be mandatory too. 

“The same should be the case for our self-isolation/quarantine regime. Voluntary and unmonitored is not good enough. Mandatory hotel quarantine should be required for the relatively low numbers of international arrivals now, with only limited exceptions.

“This will prevent the rules being flouted and will act as a deterrent to non-essential travel into Ireland during this period when our health system is under extreme pressure.

“If the government continue on their current path, and the British or other variants become dominant here, Ireland will become a Covid-19 pariah internationally, which could have consequences for Irish citizens seeking to travel abroad later this year. The government must act to prevent this.”

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