Stormont Covid vaccine passports see ‘extremely high levels of demand’ while Dublin to offer EU Digital Covid Certificate in NI ‘this week’
Stormont’s so-called ‘vaccine passport’ for international travel is currently attracting extremely high levels of demand, while Dublin is hoping to offer the EU equivalent to Irish citizens in NI this week.
The Department of Health website is offering “apologies for any inconvenience” as its ‘vaccine passport’ or NI COVID Certification Service is experiencing “extremely high levels of demand”.
It is also reported this week that the Irish government is to launch an online portal to allow Irish citizens jabbed outside the EU to apply for digital proof of their jabs.
Scott Parker, managing director of Feherty Travel in Bangor, said they had not yet been informed that Dublin is making the EU Digital Covid Certificate available in NI.
“We would normally get something like that emailed to us when it is actioned but we have not seen anything like that yet,” he said.
The Republic began using the EU Digital Covid Certificate system in July. It is being used as a form of “passport” to give members of the public access to hospitality industries and international travel.
Shortly before the EU system was adopted in the Republic of Ireland, Taoiseach Mícheál Martin suggested it would be made available to most Irish passport holders who live in NI.
However, this was later retracted as the Irish state had no record of jabs in NI.
But speaking to BBC Radio Foyle’s Mark Patterson Show on Wednesday, Fine Gael’s spokesperson on European Affairs, Neale Richmond, said “any Irish passport holder in Northern Ireland who got a vaccine will be entitled to get the EU cert”. He said an Irish government portal will go live this week.
Travel agent Mr Parker said there would be no advantage of either the NI or EU certificate when travelling outside the EU.
“But if it is travelling within the EU there are a couple of countries that if you have an EU digital pass, you don’t need to have a [Covid] to get into the country.” He added that Portugal is “the only one of the major EU countries” that this applies to at the moment.
He envisions that many people in NI with Irish passports may end up applying for both EU and NI certificates.
Meanwhile, an overhaul of the UK rules for international travel is expected to be announced today.
It has been reported that the UK’s green and amber lists will be merged to form one category of low-risk countries, while the number of destinations on the red list will be reduced.
• The COVIDCertNI App is available to download for smartphones, to access NI COVID Certification, or alternatively call 0300 200 7814. Click here for more details.
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