jump to navigation

A ‘controversial’ quarantine? June 24, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

From the IT yesterday evening:

The Government should axe its controversial Covid-19 quarantine on incoming passengers by next week, a State-appointed taskforce says.
Covid-19 travel restrictions require anyone travelling into the State from the EU and elsewhere to quarantine for 14 days. A report by the Taskforce for Aviation Recovery calls on the Government to clarify the quarantine rules to “facilitate” its lifting by July 1st.
“A 14-day quarantine period makes non-essential and discretionary travel challenging, and inhibits business-related travel, which is critical for the Irish economy,” the report says.

And who are these worthies on the TFAR?

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, appointed the task force, whose members represent the industry, workers and Government.
Businessman Chris Horn chairs the group whose members include: Dalton Philips, chief executive of DAA, the company responsible for Cork and Dublin airports; Patricia King, general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions; Aer Lingus chief executive Sean Doyle; David O’Brien, commercial director at Ryanair; and Conor McCarthy, chief execuitve of aircraft maintenance group Dublin Aerospace.

And a medical input? Why none at all.

The task force admits that the Republic is “significantly behind” other EU member states in lifting Covid-19 travel restrictions, despite being as or more successful in containing the pandemic.

Hmmm… that could read a number of ways. Of course it also comes at a tricky point given that Germany has seen a substantial spike and the reimposition of lockdowns in part of that state, and so on. Or indeed that we have seen in the last week how quarantine busting reimported Covid-19 to New Zealand.

Then there’s this:

The task force argues that the Republic should lift travel restrictions “ideally” by July 1st.
Also by that deadline, the document calls on the State to adopt a code of practice for safe air travel that follows recommendations jointly published by the European Centre for Disease Control and European Union Aviation Safety Agency.
They include that passengers wear face masks, in airports and on board craft, and stay 2m apart in queues.

But, and one hesitates to say it, but it has to be said, that’s not quite what the recommendations state. As noted on the CLR recently… well, I’ll just requite the post in most of its entirety…


Taking a look at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control guidelines is an interesting exercise in itself. And not one that perhaps is as comforting as the IALPA representative suggests.

For example it argues for a range of measures, masks, hand hygiene, temperature checks and so on. Indeed right up to the door of the aircraft one might well feel quite comfortable with the direction in which it goes. Well to a point. For example those temperature checks?

It should be recognised that thermal screening has many limitations and little evidence of effectiveness in detecting COVID-19 cases:
 Many symptomatic persons do not have fever and a large percentage of transmission of COVID-19 occurs by asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic cases;
 Fever can easily be treated with medication; and
 It may give a false impression of safety with negative effect on compliance with other measures.

So really this is a bit cosmetic. But it strenuously argues that:

Passengers should be reminded that physical distancing between individuals of 1.5 metres should be maintained as much as is possible in the airport. For the supporting evidence regarding physical distancing, please see Annex 1.

Except… when one boards the aircraft – or a bit before, because there are caveats:

Aeroplane operators and airport operators should cooperate to ensure physical distancing is respected wherever feasible, especially during check-in, security check, pre-boarding and boarding. When the recommended physical distancing of 1.5 metres is not possible, due to infrastructure or operational constraints, aeroplane operators and airport operators should implement the additional risk mitigation measures such as hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, additional transport, etc. Airport operators should also, as far as practicable, put in place separate opposite flows. This could be achieved through floor markings or direction signs. The access to airport lavatories should respect the principles of physical distancing.

Yeah, but on the aircraft it’ll be okay, won’t it? After all, later in the document it argues that in the event of a ‘suspected case’ on board:

Passengers who were seated 2 seats in every direction from the suspected case may be considered close contacts and will need to be interviewed by the entry country public health authorities, if the suspect case is confirmed.

So obviously on board no one will sit within 2 seats except for close family members. And indeed the document does suggest that:

In addition to the other health and hygiene measures that must be observed at all times, where allowed by the passenger load, cabin configuration and mass and balance requirements, aeroplane operators should ensure, to the extent possible, physical distancing among passengers. Family members and individuals travelling together as part of the same household can be seated next to each other. The seat allocation process should be modified accordingly.

That 2 seats though…no-one surely will be within that?

Er… not quite. That line above about ‘infrastructure or operational constraints’ makes an unwelcome reappearance:

If physical distancing cannot be guaranteed because of the passenger load, seat configuration or other operational constraints, passengers and crew members on board an aircraft should adhere at all times to all the other preventive measures including strict hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette and should wear a face mask.

But the document notes in its latter pages:

Physical distancing
Current scientific studies and articles32 confirm that in general, the distance that large respiratory droplets travel is 1.5 metres for normal speech and up to 2 metres when coughing. For this reason, aeroplane operators, airport operators and service providers should ensure that physical distancing of 1.5 metres is maintained wherever this is operationally feasible. In case physical distancing cannot be guaranteed because of operational constraints, the airport operator should implement risk mitigation measures, such as providing face masks for the passengers.

So anyone within that 2 seats area is going to be able to cough and likely speak and in such a way as to, if they are infected, spread the disease. And all the good intentions about operational feasibility or risk mitigation measures are not going to allay concerns. Indeed the very same document notes that the ‘risk mitigation measure’ that it explicitly references in the above, that being face masks…

The use of face masks in airports should be considered only as a complementary measure and not as a replacement for established preventive measures, for example physical distancing, respiratory etiquette, meticulous hand hygiene and avoiding touching the face, nose, eyes and mouth.

As noted above, not as comforting as might be thought. And one would have to wonder at the accuracy of the line in the original letter which suggests that:

While other EU member states carefully and sensibly relax restrictions on passengers who fly, Ireland is considering a policy which is not based on EU aviation guidelines, the epidemiology or coordination with other countries.

Not based on the epidemiology? Not so sure about that. Moreover there was strong pushback from Public health experts against these ideas.

Dr Gabriel Scally, speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Sarah McInerney, cautioned against unneccessary travel, saying the last thing Ireland wants to do is start importing new Covid cases from elsewhere.

He said it is a real danger and pointed out that there were a significant number of cases among Chinese people returning home, once restrictions there were lifted.

Dr Scally said there will be a lot of Irish people who want to come home soon and there is a risk they could bring coronavirus cases from other jurisdictions.

Speaking on the same programme, Kingston Mills, Professor of Experimental Immunology at Trinity College Dublin, has said that quarantine measures should be in place for travellers coming from countries which are experiencing a high level of virus.

And given the actual ECDC document and what it contains one would have to take serious issue with O’Leary’s assertion that:

…people can fly “in perfect safety fully supported by the ECDC and the European Safety Agency”.

‘Perfect safety’ clearly means something quite radically different to O’Leary than it does to me.

Which perhaps underlines the following:

Dr Scally said he did not know where Mr O’Leary had received his information, and he told RTÉ Radio’s Today programme he did not think that anyone should take public health advice from the Ryanair boss.

Or perhaps O’Leary could, and should, read the documents he uses to make his case. Whatever their intent they’re not making the case he claims they do.

But where is the political leadership on this? In fairness FG’s Heather Humphries was out fighting against too rapid easing of the lock down, but where are others in FG and FF on this?

Good on SF though for having a clear and concise message:

Sinn Féin’s health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly said that Mr O’Leary was “trying to drum up business for Ryanair. He is not a public health expert”. The TD said she understood that people were frustrated and wanted life to get back to normal but it was important that any move back to normality had to be done safely, guided by public health advice.


1. sonofstan - June 24, 2020

I admit to being torn on this one, mainly because I’m planning on travelling to Dublin weekend after next and am not looking forward to two weeks of isolation – allied to the suspicion that many people might be less conscientious about it. But not convinced that now’s the time to lift it, and especially not from the UK (except of course, were I to drive to Stranraer-Larne and back into the country that way, I’d be exempt)

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - June 24, 2020

It’s so difficult – the predicament you’re in. So much is down to trust, risk, and so on. How does a weekend work even?


2. EWI - June 24, 2020

‘Controversial’ only in the pages and on the airwaves of the corporate-owned media, which is a neat circle of trying to influence (or justify, no reason to believe that FG aren’t on-board here) public policy.

Polling has pretty definitively established that it’s not ‘controversial’ among the Irish public.

Liked by 3 people

WorldbyStorm - June 24, 2020

I think we’ve both mentioned this before, but isn’t it amazing the line the IT has taken from about four weeks in. Just completely detached from the medical side – pushing sotto voce for a reopening, etc, etc. I’ve never been a big fan of the paper but to see how insulated for want of a better word, or detached, so many of their commentators are from all this was still a revelation.


WorldbyStorm - June 24, 2020

Or maybe it’s just liberals and their not so funny ways.


sonofstan - June 24, 2020

Exhibit A – McDowell today giving out about Brit racism: the man who proposed and passed the single most functionally racist piece of legislation on the Irish statute books.

Liked by 1 person

EWI - June 24, 2020

Exhibit A – McDowell today giving out about Brit racism: the man who proposed and passed the single most functionally racist piece of legislation on the Irish statute books.

It has real effects. My partner’s youngest was born and has lived here in Dublin all his five years, and is still not eligible to be an Irish citizen. Yet a Saudi billionaire can buy an Irish passport in the morning.

Liked by 2 people

WorldbyStorm - June 24, 2020



sonofstan - June 25, 2020


Contrast that with a rather petulent piece in the IT recently from Richard Pine, complaining that he had been unable to get Irish citizenship, (even though he lives in Greece), and that the nation was refusing to recognise the huge contribution he’d made by writing for the IT for 40 years.

Liked by 1 person

oliverbohs - June 24, 2020

Am seriously thinking of unsubscribing to their website. No use complaining about them until one puts one’s money where one’s mouth is. The “shut up and listen to the important man in the suit” attitude will never change


WorldbyStorm - June 24, 2020

Hmmm. Yep. I find RTÉ much less worse, thoguh there were some pieces the last couple of days that weren’t great.


EWI - June 24, 2020

‘Real news has value’, as their Trump-era sales pitch goes, and handily the IT will decide for us what’s ‘real news’.

Liked by 1 person

3. tafkaGW - June 24, 2020

This is madness, especially when they really mean not to quarantine people from hotspots like the US, India, the UK and Latin America.

O’Reilly can pump out Trumpisms as much as he like, but sitting breathing recycled air in a tin tube packed in with other people is a damn good way of initiating a super-spreader event.

Especially if the individual concerned are cabin crew being forced to sell overpriced tat to a captive market for Mr. O’Reilly.

Remember that, even when it doesn’t kill, this virus can lead to lasting damage and illness.


4. tafkaGW - June 24, 2020

And fuck ‘business travel’.

Keep that shit shut down and let them use t’internet.

BTW – the stuff about coughing is bull – and ignores aerosol spreading.

And don’t get me started on sneezing in the pollen season.

Liked by 1 person

5. CL - June 24, 2020

Governor Cuomo of NY and the governors of NJ and Connecticut have just announced a 14 quarantine for visitors to the three states from several other states where the virus infection rate is above a certain level. Violators will be fined $2,000 and subjected to mandatory quarantine.
Cuomo stated that some states have re-opened prematurely and the infection rate is now increasing in 27 states in contrast to NY where the infection rate, hospitalizations, and deaths have been substantially reduced. NY is re-opening gradually, with many restrictions still in place, and 50,000 tests per day are being carried out.


CL - June 24, 2020

’14 day quarantine’

Liked by 1 person

6. “A Controversial Quarantine” – Cedar Lounge Revolution | Tomás Ó Flatharta - June 25, 2020
7. tafkaGW - June 25, 2020

There are apparently just 34 people working on contact tracing in the RoI. This would be nowhere near enough to trace a couple of simultaneous major outbreaks in time to reduce transmission.

Quarantines should not be lifted for this reason among many others.


alanmyler - June 25, 2020

Any idea what the number was at peak? I’m just curious if the numbers have reduced now simply because the number of people testing positive has reduced so much? I recognise that there might be a bit of a chicken / egg relationship going on there of course.


WorldbyStorm - June 25, 2020

Very good question.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: