Friday, 16 July 2021
Mandatory Hotel Quarantine Extension: Motion
I welcome the Minister to the House. I echo the Acting Chairman's observations on the Minister's presence here. It speaks volume and he is always very welcome.
We do not necessarily want to extend this legislation because nobody wants to quarantine people who are coming to our country. This is a country where the céad míle fáilte is something that we are very proud of but unfortunately, due to the public health emergency, it is necessary. I repeat what I said earlier on; we have managed this pandemic exceptionally well. Sadly, and unfortunately, more than 5,000 people have lost their lives in this country as a result of this pandemic but it could have been much worse. Had we not taken what could be described as draconian measures and done all that we did, many thousands more would have died. We must look at what has happened in the UK with the situation of people who have, sadly, died and the number of those who have contracted Covid there. That is a salutary lesson in terms of what we are doing and the reasons for it.
We have one of the strictest mandatory quarantine regimes in Europe and it is working. Sadly, this virus can be imported very easily. I commend the people who are managing the hotel quarantine system - it is certainly not easy - and, by and large, they are doing a good job. I also acknowledge the citizens who freely entered mandatory hotel quarantine because they knew it was the right thing to do even though it cost them to do so. The vast majority of them did it because they knew it was the right thing to do and they were buying into the meitheal that we are all involved with in dealing with this disease.
Unfortunately, we will be faced with a significant Delta wave of this virus in the months of August and September. We, therefore, must support this motion and extend the relevant period. As the Minister has quite rightly said, it will not be in existence a day longer than it is needed. It is just another measure in the suite of measures that the Government has introduced to support people.
The simple messages must always be articulated. We all have a part to play in this. The Government, the medical profession and the front-line workers can only do so much. Each citizen of this country must remain focused on doing what he or she has been doing, including not meeting unnecessarily, keeping a safe distance apart, following basic hygiene measures, wearing masks and not letting one's guard down. We did it in the first lockdown and we have continued to do it. While we will get to the end of this pandemic, it requires buy-in from everybody. As we break up for the summer holidays, I encourage everybody in the country to continue this united effort against the pandemic to save as many lives as we possibly can.