In mid-January, France informed Ireland that it was preparing to introduce a requirement that hauliers travelling from Ireland to France must furnish a negative Covid-19 test result prior to embarking on their journey. A Covid-19 testing service for drivers was required to be in operation by 27 January. Given the extreme urgency involved, my Department issued a request for quotes to a number of suppliers and entered into a contract with one supplier, to provide antigen testing services. The service involves the provision of antigen testing for commercial drivers at a number of sites located close to our ports with direct maritime services from Ireland to France. This arrangement is in place for a temporary period.
Given the extreme urgency involved, my Department relied on the negotiated procedure without prior publication, as set out in the derogation at Regulation 32(2)(c) of the European Union (Award of Public Authority Contracts) Regulations S.I 284/2016 for this procurement.
It is my intention to run a full tendering process to provide COVID-19 testing services for commercial drivers in the event that the French requirements for a negative test prior to embarkment remain beyond this initial period or further countries introduce such a requirement. I would encourage any existing test providers to engage in that tendering process.