Dental facilities in Tenerife, Spain, have revealed that thousands of Irish citizens are booking dental treatment in the Canary Islands to get around the ban on non-essential travel – and then not turning up for their appointments.
"We are used to Irish people coming for treatment, but we thought it strange the number who are asking for written confirmation of their appointment, and then they are not turning up,” receptionist Roberta Beccaris of Clinica Dental told Irish radio broadcasting station RTE Radio 1. “Now we understand that it was just an excuse to come here for a holiday.” She noted that these individuals were taking appointments away from people who actually need them.
Indeed, according to RTE, the National Immigration Bureau have noticed that on specific flights, between 30 and 40 per cent of people travelling have dental appointments awaiting them.
Irish police tell reporters that while they can fine travellers €500 for breaking Covid travel restrictions, they are unable to legally stop the travellers, who provide authorities with confirmation of a dental appointment prior to their flight. According to Independent.ie, fines for travelling abroad are due to increase to €2,000 – something that officials hope will deter these determined sunseekers. And a statement from Irish Garda Commissioner Drew Harris suggests that additional repercussions are to come into effect: “We warn people that they may be prosecuted if they carry on with their journey and we don’t regard a dentist appointment in Tenerife as being reasonable.”
He added: “We say: ‘That is not a reasonable grounds to travel and we are giving direction not to travel – if you continue on your journey, in effect, then you may have committed two different offences, which will be dealt with by summons’. We have found that people have actually turned back rather than be prosecuted and in effect have a criminal record and risk imprisonment or a suspended sentence which is a far greater penalty than a fixed penalty notice.”
For the majority of travellers, discussions on health passports seem to hold the light at the end of the tunnel for leisure holidays.