'Too soon' to consider vaccine passports, says Irish health officials

ireland
'Too Soon' To Consider Vaccine Passports, Says Irish Health Officials
The BioNTech/Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine is prepared (Nick Potts/PA), © PA Wire/PA Images
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Digital Desk Staff

It is too soon to make plans for so-called vaccine passports, Irish health officials have said, despite moves being made at a European level to establish such a scheme.

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, yesterday announced she will present plans for a Covid-19 vaccination passport on March 17th.

As the Irish Examiner reports, the 'digital green pass' will include information on whether someone has received a Covid-19 vaccination, has been tested, or contracted the virus, and could see Europeans able to travel more freely by the summer.

“The aim is to gradually enable them to move safely in the European Union or abroad — for work or tourism,” Ms von der Leyen said, sparking hopes of increased international travel in the months ahead.

However, deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn quickly poured cold water on the prospect, claiming it is “too early at this point to discuss the utility of it.”

Incoming travel

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Irish officials will be part of the discussions, but Dr Glynn said he anticipates some form of restrictions to be in place until the end of the year.

Due to the pace of the vaccine rollout, a Covid passport is not an urgent issue here, he said.

In terms of travel in Ireland at present, the focus is on incoming travel, with the justice minister set to bring a memo to cabinet this morning to ban visas from all countries that currently require mandatory quarantine, while the Seanad yesterday passed the legislation for hotel quarantining, which will now go to the President to be signed into law.

In terms of reopening society, in the coming weeks, a report on rapid antigen testing will be presented to Cabinet, Dr Glynn said.

As reported on Monday, a Cabinet memo outlined plans to use 15-minute antigen tests as part of the moves to reopen society.

Professor Mark Ferguson is in the beginning stages of the report, and it is not due to be presented to the minister until mid-March, health officials said.

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