Mandatory quarantining will only work with effective testing

25 January 2021

Labour transport spokesperson Duncan Smith TD has welcomed the news that the Irish Hotels Federation and its members are open to facilitating the Government in introducing full quarantine measures for any person arriving into the country. Acknowledging the Federation’s engagement, Deputy Smith reiterated that quarantining will only be effective if coupled with a robust testing system.

Deputy Smith said: “The Labour Party has called on the Government to heed NPHET’s advice to introduce mandatory quarantining measures to reduce levels of Covid-19 in the country. Mandatory quarantining has already proven its effectiveness in countries like Australia and New Zealand, and our frontline workers, vulnerable population, businesses and the public at large deserve this protection from the Government. The entire population has made hard sacrifices for almost a year, and mandatory quarantining is one tool at the Government’s disposal to reduce levels of the virus circulating in the community.

“I welcome the news that the Irish Hotels Federation is open to facilitating the Government in any quarantining proposals. However, testing is key here. Any quarantining regime must be implemented in tandem with more robust testing. Arrivals into the country must be tested pre-arrival, on arrival and throughout the duration of their quarantining to effectively control the entry of the virus into the country. Had this been introduced sooner, we could have protected ourselves from the new, more transmissible variations that our health service is now grappling with .  

“The Government needs to take a long-term approach to any strategy. Part of this must be engagement with workers and stakeholders in the aviation sector. Life will return to normal, international travel will come back, but we need to ensure that there will be an industry there when this time comes. I am reiterating my call to Government to ensure that workers in this industry are protected – this should include the reintroduction of mortgage and rent breaks and ensuring an extension of the PUP payment and other financial supports.

“With news that the vaccine rollout may be delayed, the introduction of mandatory quarantining is just the right thing to do. However, this will only be effective if the Government commits to an effective testing regime.

“The Labour Party is calling for a national aggressive suppression strategy (NASS) which would include mandatory quarantine and checks close to the border in the absence of an all island agreement. We can’t continue to see our frontline staff pushed to their limit, our children out of schools and businesses across the country closed indefinitely. Implementing a national aggressive suppression strategy would dramatically reduce levels of the virus. The time to act is now.”

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