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People Using ‘Dental Holiday’ Loophole to Dodge Non-Essential Travel Bans

People Using ‘Dental Holiday’ Loophole to Dodge Non-Essential Travel Bans

Irish sunseekers desperate to escape a bleak winter lockdown at home have found a loophole to get around a ban on non-essential international travel and holidaymakers are said to be using it in their thousands. The trick simply involves booking an overseas dental appointment to make use of a medical treatment exemption in Ireland’s international travel ban.

Dublin first imposed the ban in mid-December to reduce the risk of importing new COVID-19 variants from abroad but essential travel for business, family and medical issues is still permitted.

Dental clinics in the Canary Islands are said to have proved particularly popular with some receiving dozens of enquiries every day. Many of the enquiries come from young couples in their early 20’s said one receptionist at a dental surgery in the popular winter sun destination of Tenerife.

“Obviously as they are not turning up,” the receptionist told Irish radio. “We now understand it is just an excuse for a holiday. They are taking appointments away from people who need them, who are in pain.”

Some clinics are now demanding payment upfront – a charge that some travellers are willing to pay if they get hold of the all-important email booing confirmation that they can show Gardai at the border.

Irish police have been stepping up enforcement in an attempt to stop travellers leaving the country just for a short holiday and have been demanding proof that their travel is essential. The threat of a €500 fine, however, has done little to dissuade some passengers who are going all out to find loopholes.

Earlier this month, one Irish traveller was slapped with a fine after he presented a fake employment letter which claimed he needed to perform an “essential service” at a resort hotel in Tenerife. Lawmakers are now considering upping the penalty to as much as €2,000 and police are now referring rule breakers for prosecution in the courts.

National flag-carrier Aer Lingus continues to operate flights to the Canary Islands and flights are said to be fully booked through mid-March. Low-cost rival Ryanair is continuing to accept new bookings.

One source, however, claims that the message is finally being heard and the number of passengers turning up at Dublin airport had dropped significantly over the weekend. The drop in passenger numbers followed warnings from Garda Commissioner Drew Harris over new prosecution rules.

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