The Journal, 12/07/2021
IRELAND IS OFFICIALLY signing up to the EU’s Digital Covid Cert (DCC) from this day next week.
Ahead of that date (19 July), the certs are to be sent out to those in Ireland who are fully vaccinated beginning today.
The certs have been designed as a way to facilitate Covid-safe travel throughout the EU this summer and will allow holders to bypass pandemic entry restrictions.
They may ultimately play a role in facilitating entrance to hospitality in Ireland too, but that is still to be finalised.
We’ve written a more detailed explainer about what they are but, as a quick refresher, the DCC provides proof that someone has either:
The DCC system has been up and running in EU member states since the beginning of this month but Ireland delayed its implementation due to issues caused by the HSE cyber attack.
The DCC is will come in the form of a QR code available on smartphones or on paper.
They will be issued by the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer based on information provided by the HSE.
Who will be getting their certs today and how will they get them?
People who are fully vaccinated should get their cert without requesting one, with the process of sending out certs set to begin today.
The government has said it is set to issue some 1.9 million certs today.
People will either receive their certs via email or in the post with Revenue assisting in sending them via post.
Those who were vaccinated through the HSE’s online registration portal will receive their cert via the email they used as part of that process.
People who were vaccinated through a GP or pharmacy are more likely to receive their cert in the post.
The government has said the cyber attack has impacted how GPs informed the HSE about the vaccinations they administered but that much of this transfer of information has now taken place.
What if I’m due a cert and I don’t get one?
A Digital Covid Cert call centre is to be set up to deal with a range of queries and people who don’t get their cert will be asked to contact the call centre.
There is as yet no date for when this call centre is to be established with a website also to go live that will also provide information about the DCC.
What if I’m eligible for DCC due to recovery from Covid in the last six months?
If this is the case you will also have to phone up the call centre to be issued with one, you will not get it automatically.
If you tested positive for Covid-19 through the HSE’s free PCR testing service your records should be available, with the HSE saying it has records of 170,000 people who have recovered from Covid in that period.
There may be some people who received a positive test through a private operator and not the HSE, but this is believed to be a small number.
Asked about this question this week, Minister for European Affairs Thomas Byrne said this will be worked out but that “practically everybody” who’s had a positive result had a test through the HSE.
“Even with some of the private operators, particularly earlier on in the pandemic, people were then referred to the HSE system at that point. But look, if there’s any issues they will be resolved,” he said.
How do I get a DCC with a negative test?
People can also get a DCC if they have received a recent negative Covid test but people who require a negative test, for this reason, will not be able to use the HSE’s free testing service to do so.
Instead, people will be required to go through a private provider with a government spokesperson saying this is about “not mixing the public health system for something that’s there for people to travel.”
A cert based on an antigen test will not be accepted for entry to Ireland but is acceptable in a number of other countries if it is taken within the past 48 hours.
All countries accept PCR tests, with that test required to have been taken in the past 72 hours.
Do I need to have a DCC to travel to EU member states?
No, the DCC has been designed to standardise requirements and make travel checks faster but it is not a requirement in itself.
“If you want to go to Spain, or you want to go to France, you don’t have to have a Digital Covid Cert, it makes it faster and easier going through the airport. But if you don’t have it, you can still travel on your existing documentation,” Minister of State Ossian Smyth said last week.
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