Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly (pictured) has signed new regulations introducing a system of mandatory quarantine for arrivals into the state.
The regulations, which came into effect yesterday (4 February), follow a recent Government decision to implement a regime for mandatory quarantine at home.
Under the new rules, passengers arriving from any destination must quarantine for 14 days at the address specified on their Passenger Locator Form, with penalties for non-compliance.
The penalties are a fine of up to €2,500 or six months in prison, or both. A limited number of exemptions includes workers carrying out repair and maintenance of critical infrastructure.
The minister said enforcement of the regulations would be a matter for An Garda Síochána. Taoiseach Micheál Martin told RTÉ, however, that it would not be legally possible to ensure people self-isolated in their rooms, though that was the public-health advice.
Variants of concern
“Further work on additional legislation to implement mandatory quarantine at a designated facility for those arriving from countries with variants of concern, such as Brazil and South Africa is being progressed and will be implemented as soon as possible," Minister Donnelly said.
The regulations give the minister the power to designate countries from which travel represents a public-health risk as ‘category two’ states. There will be no exemptions from quarantine rules for arrivals from these states, except for emergency reasons. Brazil and South Africa are currently in this category.
The regulations also extend the mandatory requirement for all arriving passengers to have a negative PCR test for COVID-19.
Those who do not have evidence of this test may also face a fine of up to €2,500 or a prison sentence of six months, or both. The regulations apply to people travelling into the state from another state through Northern Ireland.