People hoping to get their EU Digital COVID Certs have expressed frustration at being unable to get through to the Government's new helpline.
The original helpline (1800 851 504) collapsed under pressure on its first day yesterday, and a new number (1800 807 008) was set up this morning.
However, many people have complained they can't get through at all or were on hold for hours.
It's claimed the extra helpline is able to manage 22,000 calls, with Minister of State Robert Troy saying people should not get any call failed message.
✅ Digital Covid Certificate Helpline ✅
An extra helpline on DCC will be in place from this morning and it's volume will take up to 22,000 calls so the person ringing will not get the call failed message.
The new number will be ➡️ 1800 807 008 pic.twitter.com/SVQGl3eZBn
— Robert Troy TD (@RobertTroyTD) July 20, 2021
EU Digital COVID Certs started being sent out by email and post last week to vaccinated people, although the full helpline didn't open until yesterday.
However, Irish Independent journalist Gabi Gatavecktaite told Lunchtime Live she's one of many people unable to get through to the helplines at all.
Gabi is due to travel to Lithuania with her parents to visit family.
She has been fully vaccinated by her GP, but is still waiting for her digital cert.
She told Andrea: “I’ll be travelling with my mum - she has her cert. She was vaccinated in a mass vaccination centre.
"Then my dad will join us a week later - he got his cert first, and he was also vaccinated in a mass vaccination centre."
Gabi attempted to call the initial helpline numerous times yesterday, but the calls repeatedly failed.
She explained: “The call centre was completely overwhelmed with queries. Every single time I rang them yesterday, the call wasn’t even connected.
“When I rang the initial helpline number this morning, the call is connecting - it rings maybe two or three times, then it cuts off. The same happens with the new helpline number also.
“Some people I’ve spoken to have gotten through to speak to an operator. We’re hearing they’re waiting hours - people saying they’re waiting two hours, and one person I was speaking to yesterday said they waited three and a half hours to speak to an operator.
“But myself and many other people are not even getting through to the menu to select what your issue is, as the call is not connecting.”
Eoghan Corry, editor of Air and Travel Magazine, said there's been "havoc" as people try to reach the helpline.
He said: "There was an emergency facility put in place from Tuesday of last week, and we were told capacity would be stepped up for yesterday. We all sat back with bated breath.
“A lot of the communication around this was to only ring the helpline if you’ve recovered from COVID… but the huge number of people awaiting their digital cert are stressed to the gills.”
Eoghan stressed that other proof of vaccination or COVID-19 recovery is being accepted at airports, such as your vaccine record or a signed document from your doctor.
As this is the first day, a high volume of calls is expected to the call centre today.
But it is important to remember that the DCC is not essential for travelling, you can still travel on your vaccine card or a negative PCR test!
— Ossian Smyth TD (@smytho) July 19, 2021
People can also get a COVID-19 test before travelling, with some countries such as Spain accepting proof of a negative rapid antigen test - a test which can be done at the airport on the day of departure (although a PCR test will be required when returning to Ireland).
Eoghan added: “Where people have not got the digital COVID cert, there is a facility when you’re checking in with Ryanair and Aer Lingus to upload your COVID documentation.
"It predates the Digital COVID cert - it was used for test results.”