Govt proposals to quarantine some arrivals 'absolutely insufficient' - Opposition leader

ireland
Mary Lou McDonald has called for tougher measures. Photo: PA Images.
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By Cate McCurry, PA

The leader of Sinn Féin has said the Government needs to introduce mandatory quarantine for all travellers arriving into Ireland.

Mary Lou McDonald described proposals to quarantine those who arrive without a negative Covid-19 test as “absolutely insufficient”.

The Government Covid-19 sub-committee will meet today to discuss the current public health restrictions.

On Tuesday, the Government is to make a decision on whether to extend the health measures in place since last month. Cabinet will also consider the issue of mandatory quarantine for some arrivals, particularly for those who arrive without a negative test.

However, Ms McDonald said these measures do not go far enough.

We need a mandatory enforced quarantine

“If they don’t have a pre-arrival negative test they should be sent back to from whence they came,” she told RTÉ Morning Ireland.

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“Secondly, we need a second mandatory test after five days of being on the island and we need a mandatory enforced quarantine.

“It seems that the Government is proposing simply to quarantine those that arrive without a negative test – that is absolutely insufficient.

“I’m very surprised at this stage that they don’t realise – certainly Nphet and the public health experts realise – we have to grasp this nettle now, and it needs to be very, very clear that only essential travel onto the island, and then a mandatory form of quarantine.”

Laissez faire

Ms McDonald said that a mandatory quarantine of 14 days will act as an “effective push back” on travel.

“I think now at this juncture it is absolutely proportionate to ensure that those coming onto the island are tested pre-arrival, tested post-arrival, and that the quarantine isn’t laissez faire, or a matter of just a hit and miss which, let’s be honest, has been the case up to now, that now needs to stop,” she added.

“We need very firm and very secure arrangements. I would be urging the Government to move away from any kind of minimalist notion that quarantine is only for those who arrive without their negative test, it needs to be much more comprehensive than that.

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“Of course, it goes without saying, that for this to work it has to be island-wide so that poses now a real challenge for the Government in Dublin to now, very belatedly, use its influence to ensure that the same stringent measures are in place for those arriving in Belfast, or any point of entry, north of the border onto our island.”

Ireland remains in lockdown to help prevent the spread of coronavirus (Niall Carson/PA)

The Government is still advising against all non-essential overseas travel.

All passengers arriving into Ireland are required to produce a negative PCR test within 72 hours of arrival.

Passengers are being asked to give evidence of their negative test before boarding a plane or ferry.

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Meanwhile, Labour leader Alan Kelly said gardaí should police the border to prevent non-essential travel.

He also backed the idea of introducing mandatory quarantine for all arrivals.

Mr Kelly said that garda checks should be set up on arterial routes within five kilometres of the border.

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