COVID-19 restrictions in Ireland and Northern Ireland: a comparison of the legal framing of reasonableness

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In 2020, Ireland and Northern Ireland implemented separate
legislative strategies to tackle COVID-19, despite the island comprising
a single epidemiological unit. This article evaluates and contrasts the
framing of ‘reasonable excuses’ in the regulations adopted by Ireland
and Northern Ireland between March and December of 2020. It
submits that the rejection of an ‘all-Ireland’ approach, side by side
lack of effective regulatory coordination and enforcement, likely had
implications for transmission in each state.
The regulations have entailed far-reaching incursions on civil liberties,
often without providing the public with a clear evidence base. The
complexity of the legislation as well as conflicting government
guidance, contributed to a climate of public confusion, which created
subsequent difficulties for enforcement, notably in the border regions.
Insufficient coordination undermined measures by allowing for
loopholes to be exploited. The article reflects on the human rights
implications thereof, focusing on transparency and proportionality.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNorthern Ireland Legal Quarterly
Pages (from-to)234-259
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jul 2022

ID: 315761562