Coronavirus: Irish tourists ‘booking dental appointments in Tenerife’ to get around travel ban

Colin DrurySat, 13 February 2021, 5:39 pm

<p>Tenerife: great dentists</p> (Getty)
Tenerife: great dentists(Getty)

It has sun, sea, sand and, more importantly it seems, dentists willing to confirm appointments by email.

Irish tourists appear to be getting around the country’s travel ban on holidays by booking dental check-ups on the Spanish island of Tenerife.

Dozens of travellers at Dublin airport have been producing letters to show border officials they are not travelling to the Spanish resort for its famed good weather – but, rather, to have their molars and incisors given a once-over, according to reports.

Such medical appointments are one of the few reasons permitted for overseas journeys under Ireland’s current coronavirus restrictions.

“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,” one receptionist, Roberta Beccaris of Clinica Dental, told RTE Radio 1.

“Now we understand that it was just an excuse to come here for a holiday.”

She added: “They are taking appointments away from people who need them, who are in pain.”

She spoke out after the immigration officials at Dublin airport reported that up to 40 per cent of travellers to sun destinations were carrying letters for dental appointments.

Many continued their journey even after being warned that, if the check-ups were found to be false or unnecessary, they risked being hit with an on-the-spot fine of up to €2,000.

But, speaking on Friday night, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said officials are now changing their approach.

“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 said.

“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.”