Michael Staines
Michael Staines

14.51 22 Feb 2021


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People in long-distance relationships have warned that they are “demonised and criminalised” for wanting to travel to see their partners.

Under the current coronavirus restrictions people are only permitted to travel abroad if you have “reasonable excuses” for doing so.

There are a range of excuses defined as “reasonable,” including travelling for a medical appointment, to care for a family member or for education.

There is nothing in the regulations to allow people to travel to see their partner.

On Lunchtime Live this morning, ‘Love is not Tourism Ireland’ founder Aida said her partner lives in the US and she has not seen him for nine months.

“We are together over two years and this has completely thrown our relationship off-kilter,” she said.

“We understood in the beginning but the restrictions keep on getting tighter and tighter.

“They seem to be willing to keep restricting; there are no formal announcements from Government, there are no plans, there are contradicting messages being sent out and there are no end dates on travel restrictions.

“We are happy to test, to isolate, to re-test. We will follow the procedures to stay safe. The procedures are there for a reason so there is no need for the travel bans, for us to be criminalised or to face fines.”

"Demonised and criminalised"

She said her group now has 260 members who feel they are “being demonised and criminalised for wanting to travel to be with our partners.”

“The effect on us and our mental health, you know, everyone has been affected in different ways but for us being forcibly separated, my mental health has definitely taken a hit,” she said.

“I am a very strong person but it has certainly taken a toll to the point where I had to go to my GP and get prescribed anti-depressants to cope with this.

“We are just looking for some humanity in this. There has to be balance. It can’t be just all lockdown everything and everybody close their lives off.”

She said the couples are simply looking hoping to be granted essential travel status so they can see their loved ones without worrying about prosecution.

“If I choose to travel to see him I face the possibility of getting a €2,000 fine for attempting to leave the country and a possible criminal conviction that will have a huge impact on my future,” she said. “For anything I do, anywhere I go, any job I apply for.

“I am being criminalised for wanting to be in my partners arms.

“I don’t want to go for tourism. This is not a holiday. We won’t be sightseeing; we would be very happy to sit in. We just want to be together. That is all we want and all we are looking for.”

Essential

Also on the show, caller Bianca said she would normally see her partner of three year every couple of months.

“Now because of the travel restrictions we haven’t seen each other in nearly a year,” she said.

“We are not looking to sightsee. We are not looking to go on a holiday. I am more than happy to do the testing, the quarantine, the testing again – I want to do that.

“I just feel like we need to be given that chance to prove we are able to do this safely with the right precautions from the health experts.”

She said long-distance couples should be offered essential status for their relationships and their mental health.


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