Following the Taoiseach’s announcement of the Government’s revised Living with Covid plan, Róisín Shortall TD, co-leader of the Social Democrats, has asked for the Government to clarify the exact steps it will take between now and April 5th to bring down case numbers and the targets that it is working towards.

Deputy Shortall commented:

“This latest plan takes us through another six weeks of level 5 restrictions, but there is little indication of action. The Government needs to be much clearer about the steps that will be taken to rapidly drive down cases and set targets around which everyone can rally.

“A clear connection needs to be drawn between safe daily case numbers and the easing of restrictions. This must be the determining factor which shapes approaches taken to:

  • Directing employers to enable staff to work from home
  • Requiring supermarkets and essential retail to implement stricter precautions
  • Safeguarding workers in low-paid sectors such as meat factories and care settings
  • Limiting construction work and associated North/South commuting

“A wait and see approach simply isn’t good enough and doesn’t give the public the hope that they need to get through another period of severe lockdown.

Amendments to mandatory hotel quarantine legislation

“The legislation for mandatory hotel quarantine looks more like a box-ticking exercise rather than any serious effort to stop the further importation of the virus. It needs to be substantially amended to close loopholes to quarantine requirements and ensure that all inward travellers are subject to mandatory hotel quarantine.

“We know that nearly half of travellers coming into Ireland from abroad have declared non-essential reasons for travel, yet the Government has only put 20 countries on the hotel quarantine list. In the first two weeks of February, only one of those 20 countries even had passengers arriving into our airports and they only accounted for 7% of all international arrivals.

“This legislation will have very little real impact on the numbers arriving from abroad. Even more disappointing, residents in Northern Ireland continue to be treated as passengers in transit and remain outside the scope of legislation. This just allows the ‘Dublin Dodge’ to continue unchecked, despite concerns having been raised on numerous occasions by the authorities in the North.

“We need to learn from countries like New Zealand and Australia that have implemented successful hotel quarantining systems based on requirements for all incoming passengers, regardless of country of departure.

“People won’t continue to tolerate failure on Government’s part to stop the importation of this virus when they are sacrificing so much at home.”

February 23, 2021

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