Cathal Mac Coille: New Covid strains make credible travel restrictions essential

Public disillusion will increase if official ‘advice’ is seen as ineffective and loopholes regarding international travel remain unaddressed

Politicians often attempt compromises between what they think the public will bear and what experts say a serious situation demands. This is the normal business of politics, but it involves serious risks in confronting a pandemic.

Mandatory quarantine for incoming travellers was first proposed by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) eight months ago. In a letter sent by Tony Holohan, the chief medical officer, to Simon Harris, then Minister for Health, on May 8 last year, the government was urged to prepare for a decision to introduce more stringent travel requirements.

These included “a mandatory regime of self-isolation for 14 days at a designated facility” for all persons arriving ...