The two women- ‘the Dubai Two’-who fell foul of the quarantine laws in Ireland on their return from Dubai are to proceed with their constitutional challenge to the legal regime of enforced quarantine in a hotel for 12 days.
It is widely reported that the women had gone to Dubai for breast enhancement surgery but this had not gone ahead. On their return they refused to go to a hotel for the quarantine period.
They were charged with offences under the Health (Amendment) Act 2021 and were granted bail in the District Court. They were unable to come up with the required recognisance money, however, and were sent to the women’s prison in Mountjoy.
They were then released on foot of a High Court application brought by their legal team, but were ordered to continue the quarantine period at a designated hotel.
Their constitutional challenge against the Health (Amendment) Act 2021, it is speculated, will be on a number of grounds including:
- The quarantine legislation has created an “absolute liability offence”, for which there is no defence
- Whether it is proportionate to detain a person in quarantine if they have taken a number of covid tests and been proved to be negative
- An appeal against mandatory quarantined can only proceed after going to a hotel
- The status of the public official who decides whether a person can leave hotel quarantine or not, given the potentially significant consequences for the quarantined person
The substance of the measures, it is thought, will be difficult to overturn by reason of the exceptional situation which exists due to covid 19, the changing nature of the problem with coronavirus variants popping up with greater frequency, and the judicial deference Courts show to the state in law making by reason of the separation of powers doctrine.
The two women will be released before the legal challenge can go ahead as it will be April 20th at the earliest before a date can be set for the hearing of the action and they will have completed their hotel quarantine period of 12 days by that stage.