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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Man allowed to avoid hotel quarantine to visit dying father

A man who flew from the United States to Ireland in order to visit his dying father has been allowed to avoid quarantine.

Describing that his 91-year-old dad is on his deathbed, Colm Bates told the High Court that the purpose of his journey was to visit his father before he dies.

Mr Bates, who has lived in the United States since 1996, landed in Dublin Airport in the early hours of today.

As well as receiving his first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, Mr Bates tested negative for the virus three days ago.

The court also heard that his mother passed away in April and he was unable to go to her funeral due to Covid-19 restrictions and as a result he did not want a repeat of the situation.

The inquiry was sought at the High Court yesterday when Mr Bates was leaving on a flight from New York to Dublin.

Understanding the humanitarian nature of the application, Mr Justice Anthony Barr stated that Mr Bates needed to have the matter quickly addressed.

Micheál P O’Higgins SC agreed that Mr Bates could seek a State liaison officer on arriving at Dublin Airport to get an exemption from mandatory hotel quarantine.

Mr Higgins had stated that the Health Act permits an exception to quarantine on urgent humanitarian grounds while Mr Bates’ solicitor wrote to the Department of Health seeking an exemption.

A reply stated that he was required to quarantine on arrival and there was no facility of a review of detention either.

His lawyers were instructed to challenge the constitutionality of the quarantine law although it was hoped that it wouldn’t have been necessary to take that step.

This morning’s proceeding had a “significant development” with Mr Bates being released from quarantine this morning on humanitarian grounds. An application for legal aid will be facilitated at a later stage.

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