Donnelly tries to close travel loophole for Covid-19 ‘medical appointments’

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly is trying to fill a legal loophole that allows people to abuse Level 5 travel restrictions.

Besides the need for Covid-19 testing before the flight, anyone leaving the country should have a “reasonable excuse,” and that includes attending a medical appointment.

However, at this time, the person does not need to prove to the authorities that they attended the meeting upon their return.

A spokesperson for Mr Donnelly said: “The minister has asked the authorities to look into this matter.”

The Irish Examiner understands that the high gardaí informed the health ministry of the “loophole”, or legal loophole, in the legislation on temporary restrictions in early February.

They were concerned that the “reasonable excuse” provision was and could continue to be abused.

By the time Gardaí and health chiefs discussed the issue, up to 50 people from Dublin in their 20s and 30s had traveled to the Canary Islands for dental office appointments.

Clinica Dental Tenerife Sur staff later said most of them did not show up, suggesting that dental appointment bookings were just a trick to get out of the country .

Roberta Beccaris, office manager at Clinica Dental Tenerife Sur.

A number of appointments, most of which were for the week starting February 8, were for non-emergency services, including cleaning and teeth whitening.

Below level 5, one of the few essential reasons to travel from Ireland is to seek “essential medical, health or dental services”, or to accompany someone who needs essential treatment.

Those who travel without a valid reason are liable to fines of up to € 2,000.

It is understood that the Ministry of Health’s attempts to close the loophole have touched on various legal and other issues, including a potential conflict with the EU cross-border directive and the associated travel rights granted to persons treated under it. -this.

Lawyers for the state are also concerned about the fairness of a stricter legislative regime for leaving Ireland.

Roberta Beccaris, office manager of Clinica Dental Tenerife Sur, who previously spoke to Irish Examiner Regarding the February no-shows, confirmed that Gardaí has ​​not been in contact for further details on these individuals since.

“We have dates with older Irish people who live here or who stay here for a few months,” she said. “But we don’t have any of the young Irish clients we had before.”


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