MINISTERS LOOK set to give the green light to new checks on people quarantining at home after travel with a system of fines for those found in breach of the “stay-at-home" rules.
Some in the Government are keen to double-down on the arrangements in place, making it a requirement for anyone travelling into the country to go into mandatory home quarantine even if they are able to provide a negative PCR test.
There are also calls for more spot checks on those supposed to be in quarantine and harsher financial penalties for anyone in breach of the rules.
Government sources are said to be keen on follow-up calls and visits to those isolating at home alongside fines and a more restrictive definition of what constitutes essential travel.
According to the Irish Times, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar is also calling for the limited mandatory hotel quarantine for those arriving into Ireland without a negative test result or from a variant hot spot, such as the UK to be extended further.
These plans could be approved by the Cabinet’s Covid subcommittee as early as to take.
Though he acknowledged such a proposal would be “challenging and could take a few weeks to operationalise” it would provide “the advantage of learning how to do it successfully should the policy be widened to more incoming travellers at a later point”.
Varadkar said the Covid subcommittee is set to discuss several options to help “tighten the net” on the virus with the express aim of “keeping out new variants and reducing other domestic spread”.
“Being able to get Covid down to a low level so that we can reopen our domestic economy again is much more important than being able to travel abroad,” he added.
Ireland could yet follow the UK’s example in introducing mandatory hotel quarantine as part of a two-island strategy with Varadkar acknowledging such an approach would not prevent new variants entering the country unless it had “an all-island dimension”.
The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly is said to be in support of stricter enforcement, acknowledging that the requirement for a pre-travel PCR test is “not sufficient and that further measures are needed”.