At Saturday’s No 10 daily briefing, a questioner named Gordon from Gosport asked Grant Shapps: “How is the government going to prevent travellers staying in the Irish republic after their holidays to bypass the UK’s 14-day quarantine?”
The Home Office regulations exempt arrivals from the Common Travel Area – comprising Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.
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The Independent has identified several ways in which travellers could avoid quarantine by travelling via Dublin. None involves staying overnight, which would breach Ireland’s strict lockdown rules.
But Mr Shapps dismissed the so-called “Dublin dodge”, saying: “The point that people may not be aware of is that Ireland has a travel ban effectively as well, so they also have a quarantine in place.
“So it is the case that that may change in the future. Of course we’ll keep our system under review in the future.
“But for the time being whether somebody travels to Dublin or somebody travels to London, the same essential quarantine system would apply.”
The current Foreign Office travel advice for Ireland initially concurs, saying: “All arrivals from overseas, including Irish residents, are asked to self-isolate for 14 days.”
But in contradiction it adds: “This does not apply if you are returning to Ireland from Northern Ireland [or] transiting via an Irish airport on your way to another country.”
Those exemptions present straightforward options for UK-bound travellers to avoid both Irish and British quarantine obligations.
Anyone seeking to exploit the loopholes would increase risk to themselves and others.
With the additional transportation involved, the number of interactions with frontline staff and passengers on essential journeys would rise sharply.
The government believes that travellers availing of the loopholes will be breaching the spirit of the quarantine rules.
The Department for Transport and the Home Office have declined to comment on Mr Shapps’s assertions.
Earlier, a spokesperson for the Home Office confirmed: “Anyone travelling from Ireland will be exempt.
“However, given the high levels of compliance we have seen to date, we expect that the majority of people will do the right thing and abide by these measures.”