Half-baked government quarantine plan leaves us dangerously exposed - Mary Lou McDonald TD
Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD has called on Taoiseach Michéal Martin to introduce a mandatory quarantine regime for all non-essential arrivals from all countries.
Speaking at Leaders' Questions this afternoon, she said that the government's half-baked plan leaves us dangerously exposed to further importation of the virus, to the threat of more infectious variants, and risks the progress so hard-won by the sacrifices of people during lockdown.
The Dublin Central TD also strongly criticised Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar for ignoring for ten months the need for a mandatory quarantine regime for international travel despite the calls of public health officials since last May.
Teachta McDonald said:
"The government's refusal to deal with the issue of international travel is driving people crazy.
"People can’t go five kilometres from home but they have to watch as up to 10,000 people a week arrive here from abroad. Many of these are non-essential trips, including people taking holidays.
"As early as last May, public health officials were urging the government to implement mandatory quarantine for international arrivals.
"These calls were repeatedly ignored, leaving us dangerously exposed. In that time, thousands travelled here from other countries.
"Ten months later, the government introduce a quarantine scheme that does not go far enough. The list of 33 countries is far too limited. Only two of these countries have direct flights into Ireland.
"This half-baked plan again leaves us extremely vulnerable to importation of the virus and to dangerous variants, the threat from which was highlighted in NPHET’s letter to government last week.
"We need a system of real mandatory quarantine for all non-essential arrivals from all countries. This is the only thing that will get the job done. It will send a message to international travelers that now is not the time to come here.
"It is time to get this right. The task now must be to reopen as safely as possible, as soon as possible.
"Ignoring the need for a proper system of mandatory quarantine jeopardizes this aim, puts at risk the progress made and raises the prospect that we continue to yo-yo in and out of damaging restrictions and lockdowns."