HSE to control electronic database for people entering country

These are a number of measures being brought in to tighten up entry requirements.

The government looks set to bring in a centralised electronic database of people entering the country via airports and ports, the Irish Examiner can reveal.

And it is also to hand control of the current scheme for collecting information on passengers over to the HSE.

These are a number of measures being brought in to tighten up entry requirements.

This is because a large number of people cannot be traced after they arrive in the country.

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice told the Irish Examiner: “The Passenger Locator Form will soon be put on an electronic basis.

"The production of an online version of the Passenger Locator Form is currently being prioritised by the Government and further information will be available in due course.

“As passenger numbers are increasing significantly, the Border Management Unit (BMU) will need to focus exclusively on their core function of immigrating passengers and HSE will take this over.”

The department also revealed that of the 52,753 passengers who flew into Dublin Airport between July 1 and July 13, only 3,532 were later called to verify the information they gave on arrival.

And of those called, 1,698 - less than half - bothered to answer the phone.

The number of people called is massively down when compared to the number of calls made since May 28, from when passengers arriving into the State have been required by law to fill in a Passenger Locator Form.

Up to the end of June, some 31,375 forms had been filled out and more than 21,000 passengers were called.

But of those who were contacted by gardaí, or other agents for the BMU, only between 47% and 61% were contactable.

One of the reasons for this is people having entered the wrong phone number, despite the fact that anyone found to have wrongly filled out the form being liable to fines of up to €2,500.

Since the beginning of July, given the increase in passenger numbers, the BMU on behalf of the health authorities, is now only making follow-up calls to "a proportional number of passengers".

They say this is while the MBU officials "await handover of this follow-up action to the Department of Health".

Due to reports about US and other national tourists travelling around Ireland, there is concern about the increasing risks of Covid-19 being imported into the country.

Added to the belief the current system is not robust enough is confusion about what incoming passengers are supposed to do.

Although everyone assumes they are supposed to self-isolate, the Department of Justice says passengers are only requested to “restrict their movements for 14 days”.

They say this means staying at home and avoiding contact with other people and social situations “as much as possible”.

They also say people on restricted movement “can still go outside to exercise alone as long as they keep two metres distance from other people”.

And they can go to local shops for essential goods.