Minister of State Ossian Smyth has said that the Digital Covid Cert will not be necessary for travel, but it will speed up the system.
Mr Smyth, who is the Government’s spokesperson for Public Procurement and eGovernment, told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that people can still travel on their existing documentation such as a vaccination cert.
“This will speed up the system, if for any reason you don't have a cert, if you're not vaccinated, you can still travel on your existing documentation. That hasn't changed. If you were vaccinated in another country — if you can show evidence that you've been vaccinated you can still travel.
“It's not a prerequisite for travel. You don't have to have a digital cert to travel on Monday week. But it does make it faster.”
Mr Smyth said that having the Digital Covid Cert will make it faster and easier to get through the airport.
“The rules about isolation are changing across Europe so up to now if you went on a short trip to France, it was hardly worth it because you would have to go and isolate for a number of days and the same in Ireland, so we're removing those rules about isolation, if you arrive with a vaccination or test cert you don't have to isolate any more.
“If you have a Digital Covid Cert they will scan it, if you don't have that, but you have some proof that you've been vaccinated or tested and it can't be scanned, it's just compared against your passport,” he explained.
Mr Smyth acknowledged that fake documents had been a problem up to now. The Digital Covid Cert has a barcode on it, which cannot be faked, he said. “It encodes your name within that barcode and that's your proof. It means we can de-restrict and get rid of the isolation rules.”
There will be a diminishing number of people travelling on other documentation, he said.
“The vast majority of people will be okay, there will be glitches, there will be exceptional cases, Gov.ie (website) is there to help you, the call centre will be there to help you. Everybody has a way out.”
Mr Smyth said that in the worst case scenario where a person did not have any documentation, they could go to a test centre in airport.
When asked if the certs could be used for a return to indoor hospitality, Mr Smyth said that the cert had been designed for international travel, but that details were being “firmed up” today for a proposal for how to reopen restaurants.
“I think they are looking at using these digital certs for entry and I think a proposal is likely to be brought to Cabinet on Tuesday in that regard in case any new laws or regulations are required to operationalise that reopening.”
The digital certs may be used by the hospitality sector, he said, depending on the scheme devised. “The important thing is that any scheme that comes up is supported by the restaurants and the pubs as being workable and reasonable and actually something that they want to use.”