Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Questions (754)

Norma Foley

Question:

754. Deputy Norma Foley asked the Minister for Health if an automatic 14-day quarantine for all visitors by air or port will be enforced; and if resources will be made available for the enforcement of same. [6386/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

NPHET has considered issues in relation to overseas travel, informed by World Health Organisation and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control guidance, approaches and learning from other countries, and reports of importation of cases in a number of countries following relaxation of restrictions.

As the number of indigenous cases here declines and Ireland eases some restrictions, the relative importance of the risk of importation of cases from overseas increases. The impact of any imported cases on disease spread would be all the greater in the context of easing of domestic restrictions and the resultant increased movement and contact between people. In addition, a significant increase in the number of cases in Ireland as a result of importation could have an impact on public compliance with public health guidance and restrictions. Ultimately, the suppression of community transmission which has been achieved and which should allow for greater resumption of social and economic life in Ireland could be endangered.

To date, Ireland has introduced a range of travel related measures including issuing advice against non-essential international travel on 13th March.  As of 24th April, passengers arriving into Ireland from overseas are expected to complete the Public Health Passenger Locator Form and to self-isolate for 14 days. Self-isolation means staying indoors and avoiding contact with other people and is a more stringent measure than the stay at home requirements that apply to the wider public.

Intensive work is underway by my Department, in consultation with other relevant Departments and the Attorney General’s Office, to finalise regulations to come into effect in the coming days that will make it mandatory for passengers arriving to the State from overseas to present a completed Public Health Passenger Locator Form.

My Department, in consultation with other relevant Departments, is also developing proposals to strengthen the 14 days self-isolation arrangements for travellers from overseas. These proposals will include possible enforcement measures.  The issue of imposing mandatory quarantine for a 14 day period, to be considered as the situation evolves, was mentioned in the Roadmap for Reopening Society & Business.

It is intended that self-isolation arrangements will continue to apply to passengers arriving from overseas, irrespective of the country from which they are travelling. Passengers transiting to another jurisdiction and who will not be residing in the State, including transiting to Northern Ireland, will be exempt.