There’s a very simple solution to this problem, of course. If someone won’t tell the authorities where they’re going to be staying for the next few weeks, the state should flip the table and tell them where they’ll be staying for the next few weeks: Arbour Hill Prison. Or, if you’re not an authoritarian right winger like me, The Mespil Hotel, or somewhere. But under armed guard:

MORE than a third of passengers arriving at Dublin Airport and a quarter of those coming in at Dublin Port who were asked to self-isolate did not respond to follow-up check calls, the Department of Justice has confirmed.

The department also said over one third of passengers arriving at Dublin Airport over a six-day window did not fill out the form revealing where they would be staying in Ireland.

Kingston Mills, professor of immunology in TCD said to Sean O’Rourke yesterday, that the present situation is madness. “If I was to think of the best way to get Covid 19”, he said, “it would be flying”.

“Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea”, he said, have been very successful and have done two things we haven’t done in Ireland – contact tracing and proper restrictions on travel.

Isn’t it absolutely absurd that the Gardai are on the roads, policing whether an Irish person’s trip to Tesco is absolutely necessary, but that 30% of passengers into the airport are getting away with going god knows where and not telling anybody, when those passengers are – by the agreement of all the experts – much more high risk than Mrs. O’Brien down the road sneaking in for a fresh – but not strictly necessary – sausage roll?

Also, when stuff like this happens, you can usually discern the thinking behind it. Even a genuinely terrible decision, like the one to keep visitors flowing into nursing homes, or the decision to advise against facemasks for medical staff – in both cases, you can see that though they were completely wrong, the state was at least trying to prevent the elderly from suffering unnecessary isolation in one case and following flawed WHO advice in the other.

But this? There’s no obvious explanation from it beyond perhaps a combination of incompetence and, more probably, people having so many balls to juggle that their eye has not been totally focused on this one. But that should change, and it should change yesterday.

If passengers won’t reveal where they’re going to be living, we should put them in hotels under guard for two weeks, like the Chinese do. And like the Chinese do, we should make them pay the bill for their accommodation.

That might change attitudes in short order. And provide a little bonus for a struggling tourism sector