As official covid infection and death figures surge to new heights, and mandatory quarantines are introduced in countries like Australia, Táinaiste Leo Varadkar has said that a similar policy of quarantining incoming air and sea passengers would be “disproportionate” and “unworkable.”

Varadkar said that Ireland has seen a huge reduction in incoming foreign travel, with the number dropping down to a new low of 33,000 people entering the State per week, and claimed that the majority of these people were undertaking “essential travel”.

He argued that quarantining travellers upon arrival in Ireland would be “disproportionate”, because people already living here who test positive for covid do not have to quarantine. He also argued that it would go against the European Union’s strict rules on allowing freedom of movement and open borders between member states.

Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan also blasted the government’s PCR testing policy at the border, saying it was not sufficient to tell whether someone is covid positive or not, and that as many as 40% of those who initially test negative could actually still have the virus and carry it into the State.

According to Social Democrats leader, Catherine Murphy TD, 49% of incoming travellers do not comply with the official passenger locator form on arrival.

The Táinaiste’s comments on border control come just days after Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, said that though the new highly infectious Brazilian strain of covid-19 was not detected in Ireland yet, its eventual arrival in the country is “absolutely inevitable”, and that 1,500 travelers from Brazil have entered the State in the last two weeks alone.

Last year before the first lockdown, Simon Harris as Minister for Health said that stopping foreign travel “simply wouldn’t work” and that free travel was “at the core of the entire purpose of the EU”.