Three women who absconded from their quarantine hotel in Dublin today were found by gardaí almost 200km away in east Galway.
Gardaí this evening confirmed the three women, whose ages and nationalities have not been confirmed, had been staying at the Crowne Plaza quarantine hotel in Santry, north Dublin for a number of days but left the facility earlier today.
It is not clear if they arrived at Dublin Airport or where they had travelled from.
However, gardaí said the women were pulled over at a motorway patrol near Loughrea and persuaded them to return to the Dublin hotel.
It’s not clear if they were pulled over randomly or if the registration of the car they were travelling in had been recorded as part of the quarantine process.
Gardaí say the matter is now in the hands of the Department of Health.
"An Garda Síochána are liaising with the State Liaison Officer at a designated quarantine facility in accordance with current protocols following a report of three people leaving a facility in the Dublin area earlier today,” a statement this evening said.
"A graduated policing response was adopted by Gardaí and all three have since been returned to the facility.
“As the Department of Health are the lead agency in relation to the management of mandatory quarantining, An Garda Síochána will not be commenting further at this time.”
A spokesperson for he Department of Health said it does not comment on individual cases. Asked what the department is doing to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future, she reiterated it is a criminal offence and that gardaí can be summoned.
Anyone caught breaking the new mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine law for travellers arriving in the State face a €2,000 fine and up to a month in jail.
The latest incident follows the high-profile case of two young women from Dublin who initially refused to attend a quarantine hotel after arriving back from the UAE on a trip to undergo breast augmentation surgery.
Mother-of-two Kirstie McGrath (30), with an address at St Anthony’s Road, Dublin 8 and Niamh Mulreany (25), a mother-of -one from Scarlett Row, Essex Street West, Dublin 2 were arrested on Friday afternoon at Dublin Airport’s Terminal 2 after coming back from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Defence forces personnel called gardaí who brought them to Ballymun Garda Station and charged them with breaking the Health Act. They denied the charges and appeared before Judge Miriam Walsh at Tallaght District Court on Saturday. She noted the two friends had gone away for breast enhancement surgery and questioned if that was essential travel.
“Colloquially referred to as a boob job”, she later described their medical procedures as the reasons for their trip emerged. The court heard gardaí spent almost two hours trying to explain the regulations to the women who claimed they did not know about the law change.
They pleaded for bail with their solicitor Michael French citing humanitarian grounds. He said they had children to care for and were not aware of the regulations. They had also provided three negative covid tests in the last week and could quarantine at home, he argued.
He also said they will contest the charges and contended that it was a relatively minor offence with serious ramifications.
A challenge to the constitutionality of the law will be taken, he said. He submitted that people with Covid 19 were allowed to quarantine at home and were not subject to the same restrictions as the hotel quarantine measures travellers faced.
He submitted that they did not have the funds for the quarantine fees and that refusal of bail was disproportionate for an offence which carries a one-month jail term.
Judge Walsh granted bail with conditions but a High Court judge later denied their application that would allow them to quarantine at home and it’s understood they are currently at a quarantine hotel.