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New powers to enable gardai to check those self-isolating

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Passengers at Dublin Airport

Passengers at Dublin Airport

Passengers at Dublin Airport

Gardai are to be given the power to check up on passengers arriving in Ireland from overseas under new Covid-19 restrictions being considered by the Government.

This could include gardai calling at the addresses of passengers to ensure they are adhering to self-isolation for two weeks after arrival in this country.

Strict new regulations are being drafted to make it a legal requirement for anyone arriving in Ireland to self-isolate and give the authorities details of where they will be staying.

Using emergency legislation to allow gardai to police the new rules is a key proposal in the plans being discussed by senior ministers.

The move comes after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that Irish and French people arriving in England would be exempt from UK rules requiring passengers to quarantine for two weeks.

The announcement caught the Government by surprise, but senior figures yesterday insisted a similar exemption will not be reciprocated for English travellers to Ireland.

Deaths

There are also serious concerns at the speed in which Mr Johnson is easing Covid-19 restrictions, despite more than 31,000 deaths from the virus in the UK.

Currently everyone arriving in Ireland is being asked to voluntarily self-isolate for two weeks on arrival.

However, after figures showed a third of those arriving at Dublin Airport were not signing passenger location forms, the Government ramped up plans to make it mandatory to declare where you are staying on arrival.

The new regulations are being drafted across several departments but are being led by Tanaiste Simon Coveney and the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Those involved in drafting the new rules say the focus of the debate is ensuring they are properly enforced.

There is some discussion over whether gardai or the Border Management Unit - which is under the aegis of the Department of Justice - should be tasked with policing the new rules.

There is a push from some ministers to ensure gardai are given the power to enforce the new self-isolation regulations.

At present, passengers are asked by the Border Management Unit at Dublin Airport to give details of where they will be staying for two weeks after they arrive. It follows up with phone calls to a select number to ensure they are self-isolating at the address they have given.