Ban on travel welcome but still no plan in place

Alan Kelly TD
30 January 2021
  • Labour continues to call for mandatory hotel quarantine
  • National Aggressive Suppression Strategy vital to reopen communities

 

Labour Leader Alan Kelly has welcomed the adoption of key components of its National Aggressive Suppression Strategy (NASS) by Minister Donnelly. Signing new regulations into law last night, Minister Donnelly introduced a ban on non-residents from travelling into the State, as well as increasing the fine to €500 for travelling to the airport without reasonable excuse.

Deputy Kelly said:

“It’s good to see the Government act on another element of Labour’s aggressive suppression strategy, but we need to see the plan implemented in full. Without a NASS, we won’t get back to some normalcy. Seeing people return from their holidays on Primetime this week was the straw that broke the camels back, and I welcome the belated move by the Government to now tackle this issue head on.

“We need to aggressively discourage any unnecessary journeys into or out of the State. Stopping unnecessary travel is just one component of a NASS, and I’m glad to see the Government listen to Labour and introduce travel checks 5km from the border this week. Now, I’m calling on the Government to now consider all other elements of Labour’s strategy.

“We need to see mandatory hotel quarantine for everyone travelling into Ireland with PCR tests upon arrival and after 5 days. New variants can come from anywhere, not just the country of origin. Despite this, the Government continues to drag their feet on implementing this. If we are serious about eradicating Covid from our communities, quarantining of all arrivals must be mandatory.

“International travel is just one piece of the puzzle; we need to look at the reality that people are making unnecessary journeys within the country too. That’s why we need a survey of employers with over twenty staff to find out why so many workers are still travelling to work if it can be done from home. Workers who are trying to do the right thing need to be supported by Government to stay at home. Remember that it’s the worker and not the employer who carries the can if the Gardai or the courts decide that travelling to work was not essential.

“With these key tenets of NASS in place, we can then look at target testing. By isolating the virus in the specific communities that it exists, we can focus on aggressive testing and tracing. That will get the numbers down, keep the numbers down, and allow us to reopen our communities and economy in a sustainable way.

“The Government have taken on our proposals on banning non-residents from travelling into the State, increasing the fines for travelling to the airport unnecessarily, rapid antigen testing, and checks 5km from the border, but we need a real strategy, not this ad hoc approach. I would urge again for further action and to come with us towards a more aggressive suppression strategy.”

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