Ireland could be open for business if it implemented proper quarantine measures, according to public health expert Dr Gabriel Scally.
Dr Scally told Newstalk Breakfast there should be full mandatory hotel quarantine for anyone arriving into Ireland, as the coronavirus could be brought into the country by any route.
The professor of public health at the University of Bristol warned that there cannot be any “half measures” when it comes to quarantine.
From a public health point of view, there should be mandatory quarantine for people arriving into the country no matter their country of origin: “You can’t half do quarantine measures.”
Dr Scally said he understood the European Commission’s aim to keep borders open, but they did not have the power or responsibility on public health issues, which were the responsibility of individual countries.
Ireland was in a good position because it was an island, which put it in an ideal situation to have mandatory quarantine, he added.
Economy versus public health
When asked about getting the balance right between the economy and public health, Dr Scally said it was not possible to get the balance right. He pointed out that countries that had introduced strict quarantine measures were doing very well while countries that had on/off lockdowns had suffered economically.
“The best thing to do is get the virus down and keep it out,” he said.
Dr Scally said that Ireland could be open for business if it did this properly. The situation was going to change as the vaccine was rolled out, and the State now had a chance to get the virus down.
Putting public health first would be good for both the economy and people. Covid-19 was going to be around for a long time, but as people got the vaccine countries could open up, but there could still be outbreaks and public health needed to be supported, he said.
Dr Scally’s comments come as arrivals from a total 58 countries are now subject to mandatory hotel quarantine, after the Government’s updated list of high-risk states came into operation this morning.
Those travelling to Ireland from states including Israel, Palestine and Andorra must stay in a designated facility for 12 nights at their own expense or face either jail time or a fine.
Discussions are expected to continue this week over advice from health officials to add the United States and EU countries to the list, amid opposition from some at the Cabinet table.