Critics slam vaccine pass costs

The cost to the public purse of so-called vaccine passports could be as high as £10 million, the DUP has suggested, after they were thrown out for pubs and restaurants and being legally required for little more than a month.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 22nd January 2022, 7:15 am

Critics say the money spent on the covid certification scheme was substantial and made little difference to the spread of coronavirus in Northern Ireland.

The DUP’s Deborah Erskine, in a statement to the News Letter, said: “The full cost to businesses may never be quantified, but there was also a cost to the public purse.

“£10million was set aside to develop a policy which never had any evidential base and which for most businesses will have been in place for just over a month before they are no longer legally enforceable.

A smartphone displaying the NHS Scotland Covid status app

“That is neither an effective nor efficient use of scarce public resources and points to exactly the kind of rushed decision making which characterised the introduction of Covid passports.”

Last month, Ms Erskine’s party colleague Paul Frew asked Health Minister Robin Swann why £10 millon had been set aside to develop the passes.

Mr Swann said: “The paper card is fragile, prone to loss and open to counterfeiting and does not meet the internationally agreed framework for securely evidencing COVID vaccine status for the purposes of international travel.

“The NI certificates, now provided, do meet the rigorous standards set by the EU and WHO and are accepted worldwide. 200,000 NI citizens have availed of the Covid Vaccine Certificate Scheme so far - none of these people would have been able to travel internationally, while using their vaccine status to avoid statutory quarantine.”