Less than 10 per cent of passengers who were obliged to self-isolate for 14 days on their arrival at Dublin Airport in recent weeks were spoken to, new figures show.
Under current regulations, all passengers arriving from countries not on the Government’s green list must restrict their movements on entering Ireland.
Data supplied by the Department of Justice shows that between July 1st and August 18th there were 272,845 passengers from non-green list countries. About a third of these were exempt from the requirement to restrict their movements because they were travelling to the North or were planning to be in the Republic for fewer than two days.
Of the 177,350 new arrivals between July 1st and August 18th who were obliged to restrict their movements, calls were made to 33,021 and some 16,180 passengers answered their phones. It means 9 per cent of those who arrived since July 1st and were required to restrict their movements were spoken to in order to check if they were doing so.
The Department of Justice has said the Border Management Unit aimed to contact 10-20 per cent of people on all flights to check they were self-isolating.
A new online passenger locator form, to make it easier for officials to keep records of new arrivals and to make the checking system more efficient, is due to become operational on Wednesday.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said the online form would facilitate “an enhanced system of engagements with passengers, which will include issuing targeted public health advice by text message”.
The Department of Justice said the electronic version of the form, which all passengers will be legally obliged to complete, would be rolled out at the same time as a new call centre to make checks on passengers.
Data from the Department of Justice show some 157,376 passengers arrived at Dublin Airport in the first 18 days of August, or an average of 8,743 a day.
That was up from 5,194 a day last month and 1,277 a day in June. In April and May, some 376 and 607 passengers a day arrived at the airport respectively.
Passenger numbers passing through the airport, by far the busiest point of entry into the Republic, were still at a fraction of usual trends for this time of year. For example, in July passenger numbers were 89 per cent below last year. However, in April, May and June passenger numbers were down by 97-99 per cent.
The trends suggest people began to travel more as the pandemic eased and that trend has continued into this month. This was despite the spike in Covid-19 infection rates across the Republic for about one month and Government advice that “all non-essential travel overseas should be avoided” except for “some people [who] need to travel for essential personal and family reasons”.