Random but not mandatory testing

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar. RollingNews.ie photo


By Irish Echo Staff

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said the Irish government is examining the possibility of bringing in random coronavirus testing for people traveling to Ireland from countries where the virus is not under control.

The Irish Times reported that Mr. Varadkar said on Tuesday that mandatory testing for people traveling to Ireland from countries regarded as high risk for Covid-19 has not been ruled out, but he was not sure if mandatory testing was practicable.

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Ireland needed to consider testing people coming from countries not on the “green list” of countries not deemed high-risk, Mr Varadkar told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

The U.S. right now falls well short of that list.

The list, added the Times report, is due to be finalized in the coming days ahead of the scheduled start of phase four of Covid-19 restrictions on July 20th.

Mr. Varadkar has characterized listed countries as being ones where "you are no more likely to get the virus there than here.”

For countries not on the “green list” or “A list”, the government is examining the possibility of “bringing in random testing or testing in some cases as other countries have done because we know that mandatory testing is not possible in Ireland.”

Mandatory testing would not be legally sound, Mr. Vardkar said.

“We’ve seen for example in Australia it worked out very badly where the hotels where people have been detained have turned out to be clusters or sources of infections themselves.”

At present, people arriving in Ireland from overseas must by law fill in a form called the Covid-19 passenger locator form and can be jailed or fined if they do not or if they provide false information. However, mandatory quarantine is not part of the measure.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald, according to the Times report, said that tourists should be told “don’t come this season” and that anyone arriving in the country should face mandatory 14-day quarantine.

The island of Ireland cannot be left exposed and it was not enough to accept “on a wing and prayer” that people were self-quarantining, Ms. McDonald told RTÉ radio’s Today with Sarah McInerney program.