What health authorities say on foreign travel ‘does not matter’

A travel expert says anyone considering foreign travel should listen to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

It comes as the Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan appealed to people with foreign holidays planned for this summer to cancel their flight and hotel bookings.

The National Public Health Emergency Team said it was noticing a “worrying trend” of COVID-19 cases increasing here, and new clusters emerging.

At least six of the cases reported on Monday were associated with international travel.

But Eoghan Corry told Pat Kenny the final say has to come from the Government.

“What the health authorities say does not matter – what the Department of Foreign Affairs says is really what matters.

“And that’s the audience that the health authorities have been pitching their argument at: ‘Do not lift this blanket ban on essential travel’.

“It means that travel insurance doesn’t cover your trips – that’s a huge deal for instance if we could get into America, which we can’t.

“It’s not such a big deal within Europe because the EHIC [European Health Insurance Card] it’s separately legislated for and it is being honoured and the countries that are open for tourism – which is most of Europe – are honouring EHIC cards”.

“Things like your lost baggage and all of that – travel insurance for that is not covered.

“There’s also a huge question: travel insurers are facing a huge liquidity crisis of their own.

“They’re going through claims, and some of the claims are not clear cut.

“On a case by case basis – a lot of stuff being ruled out, some stuff being ruled in.

“But we’re entering a very different phase on all of what we’ve spoken about on this programme before, Pat.

“In the past there was maybe, at the lowest point, maybe 12/13 departures from Dublin Airport – as of tomorrow there are 80.

“And that’s going to go up [with] Air Canada resuming the day after.

“We’re now in a situation where the flights are departing, so the refunds will not be offered to people who have booked, maybe in advance of this.

“Their flight departs, they now have a big question: do they get on the flight against that noise that’s been created all about foreign travel… as close to a prohibition as a health authority can impose on it, and losing their money.

“Because there will be no refunds for these flights – the flights are departing, people have paid for them and the airline will quite coherently say ‘it’s not our problem’.

“The only way of getting your money back then is to go back to the travel insurance company and say ‘the [Department of Foreign Affairs] say all but essential travel is banned, can I get my money back?’

“My experience of this… is that the insurance companies are sending you back to the airline.

“And then more importantly, to the tour operator and travel agent who are liable for it under the package holiday directive.

“Under the terms of a package if someone sells you three things – let’s say a flight, a hotel, a transfer, maybe a theme park ticket – and one element of it doesn’t take place, then there’s a legal question of who’s liable.

“We could run into – from a very, very messy situation on refunds over the last hundred days of coronavirus – we could be running into an even more complicated one in the weeks to come, unless we get some sort of a political decision – which is not forthcoming”.

What health authorities say on foreign travel ‘does not matter’

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Main image: Scenes in an almost deserted Terminal One of Dublin Airport. Picture by: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie