The Government will introduce new laws to stop people travelling abroad on holiday if fines are found to be ineffective.
On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, the Health Minister Stephen Donnelly admitted Gardaí do not have the powers to stop people from travelling abroad.
He said people arriving at the airport can be handed a €500 fine; however, Gardaí cannot arrest them or send them home.
“I signed a new regulation a few days ago specifically for travelling with the intention of leaving the country without a reasonable excuse – in other words, the holiday maker – that is €500,” he said.
“Now, I checked this morning and the legal position as it was explained to me is, right now, the Gardaí do not have the legal powers to arrest you and send you home.”
He said the Government will introduce stricter regulations if the fines do not have the desired effect.
“If people think they can just say, ‘oh be damned, I don’t care, I am going away. I don’t care about putting people at risk and I will pay the fine,’ then I can assure you Government will look at that and we will look at what powers are necessary to deal with that,” he said.
“Because from my perspective and I am sure from your listener’s perspective, that is not OK.”
He said the latest figures show that 813 people arrived into Dublin Airport yesterday.
Minister Donnelly also confirmed that people must quarantine away from other members of their household on their return from abroad.
On Virgin Media Television last night, he suggested that people quarantining at home did not have to remain in their own rooms, provided they did not leave the house.
This morning however, he said he was only referring to people who live alone or families that travel together.
“The whole point of that is you have to isolate yourself from other people you could put at risk,” he said.
“So, if you live on your own for example and you go home to your own house, then you can be wherever you want in your own house, obviously, it doesn’t matter. What is important is you don’t leave your house and mix with other people.
“If you are a family coming back, you are already mixing; you are not going to be any additional risk to each other so, obviously, your home is your home, you don’t all need to go to your respective bedrooms and sit there.
“However, if you live with other people and you are travelling on your own, in that case you do need to go and self-isolate because you are a risk to the people you live with.”
He confirmed that there is no legal way to ensure people are self-isolating in the home – insisting that the Government must trust people to do the right thing.
“What is legally possible is telling people they need to stay at home,” he said.
“The law does not extend into the house to tell you what room in your own house you have to stay in.
“So, we have to work with people and trust people and say, ‘look, this is the law but if you are living with other people who were not travelling with you, you do pose a risk to them.”
Minister Donnelly said travel only accounts for a small portion of Ireland’s COVID figures – noting that best way to address the crisis is to follow Level Five restriction over the coming weeks.
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