Sinn Féin’s health spokesperson David Cullinane has described the mandatory hotel quarantine capacity issue as “a shambles” which came about as a result of a lack of planning.
“The Government has to take responsibility for rushing in with no plan,” he told Newstalk Breakfast.
On several occasions in the past year he and his party had expressed concern at the lack of a mandatory quarantine system in Ireland, but it had not happened until recently when it had been rushed into place, he said.
Greater capacity should have been put in place “from day one” as the Department of Transport “had the numbers” on the travellers arriving into the country. The Government were the ones who had added extra countries to the list which put greater pressure on capacity, he added.
Lack of capacity
This had resulted in a situation now where the system had to be paused because of lack of capacity, said Mr Cullinane who went on to quote the acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn who had warned that if “we get it wrong” then all the good achieved to date would be undone.
Later on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McCanalogue said that the mandatory hotel quarantine system was important to protect the country from variants of Covid-19.
Unannounced ‘walk-in’s had led to the capacity problem, he said. It was up to the air carriers to ensure that people had the necessary preparations in place prior to arriving in Ireland.
Mr McCanalogue acknowledged that there was no shortage of hotel rooms in Ireland, but the issue was that there had been more ‘walk ins’ “than there should have been.”
The overall objective was that travel be kept to the minimum and for essential purposes only, he added.