EU Covid travel certs to be issued within weeks, says Varadkar

ireland
Eu Covid Travel Certs To Be Issued Within Weeks, Says Varadkar
The digital Covid cert is proof that travellers have been fully vaccinated, have received a negative test result or have recovered from the virus. Photo: PA Images
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Cate McCurry, PA

Hundreds of thousands of people are set to receive their digital Covid cert in the next three weeks, the Tánaiste has said.

Leo Varadkar said people will receive the Covid certs either electronically or by post.

Work is also under way to establish whether the certs can be used domestically to allow people to dine indoors.

Earlier this week, the Government said it will adopt a system recommended by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) that only fully vaccinated or those with immunity from the virus can eat and drink indoors.

The digital Covid cert is proof that travellers have been fully vaccinated; have received a negative test result; or have recovered from the virus.

Ireland is the only European Union member state that does not have the scheme up and running by today.

“We do expect that within the next three weeks, hundreds of thousands of people will receive their digital Covid cert, either electronically or perhaps even by post,” Mr Varadkar told the Dáil.

“We’re working out now whether we can use that domestically.

“It was only ever intended for international travel and border check control people checking these passes is a very different thing from your local pub or your local restaurants and that’s what needs to be worked out.”

Mr Varadkar also told the Dáil that Nphet’s modelling did not take into account the recommendation by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) that the AstraZeneca and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines can be administered to people aged 18-40.

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However, a number of Cabinet ministers said they were not aware the expert group’s modelling did not include Niac’s latest advice on vaccines.

It has been reported that some ministers claimed they were told the modelling did take into account the latest update.

Mr Varadkar also said that work is under way today to assess how the changes will speed up the vaccination programme, particularly among the younger age cohort.

“The modelling presented by Nphet to the Cabinet on Tuesday didn’t take account of the changes that Niac has now permitted in relation to vaccines, nor could it have,” Mr Varadkar said.

“We still don’t know for sure what the changes that Niac are now permitting will do in terms of vaccination programme.”

He added there are still uncertainties around the supply of AstraZeneca and the level of uptake of vaccines if walk-ins are permitted.

 

The Fine Gael leader added: “We are certainly considering the possibility of opening that up to people under 50, where they could go to their community pharmacist and avail of that vaccine.

“If we announce this there’ll be queues outside pharmacies, but will there be the stocks? And that’s the kind of work the HSE has to do.”

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Nphet’s modelling work will be re-examined to consider data of the Delta variant from the UK and the changes approved by Niac, the Dáil was told.

Labour leader Alan Kelly said the manner in which the Government has handled the decision to delay the reopening of indoor dining was “embarrassing”.

“On behalf of the Irish people, what happened was embarrassing,” Mr Kelly said.

“It was chaos, it was unacceptable for ministers either one; at Cabinet didn’t understand what was in front or two; they were misled.

“It was one or the other because they’re certainly saying quite forcefully that they did not know that the modelling that was pushed in front of them by Nphet didn’t include the new Niac advice in relation to the vaccines.

“We didn’t include in the modelling the fact that there is approximately 900 single dose Janssen vaccines coming and also that approximately, give or take, two million AstraZeneca vaccines that can inoculate one million people.

“So that’s 1.9 million people extra that could be inoculated.”

Mr Kelly said that the Janssen vaccines should be given to anyone aged 18-29 who wants one.

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