Unvaccinated people who pick up COVID on holidays abroad could find themselves unable to return home, according to travel expert Eoghan Corry.
The Government has insisted it will be ready to roll out the EU Digital COVID Certificate as planned on July 19th.
The cert, which allows people to travel anywhere in the EU once they are fully vaccinated, fully recovered from COVID or undergo a negative COVID test, was officially rolled out in every member state except Ireland last Thursday.
From Monday, letters and emails will begin to be sent out to more than 1.8 million people who qualify for the cert through their vaccination.
People who have recovered from COVID within the last 180 days will reportedly have to contact a dedicated call centre to request a cert.
Meanwhile, people hoping to undergo a negative test to get the cert will have to do so through an approved private operator.
On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, Air and Travel Editor Eoghan Corry said many people won’t find international travel much easier despite the new cert.
“Tricky is an understatement,” he said. “We are not getting our old lives back on July 19th by any means.
“What we have is a workaround, a facility to allow us to allow people to move.”
He said unvaccinated people who pick up the virus while on holiday will not be allowed on the plane home.
“It throws up the possibility you can’t return,” he said. “The immigration people won’t be letting people in who are carriers and the airline won’t be letting them on-board.”
EU Digital COVID Certificate
Mr Corry said a “ginormous” number of letters and emails will issue to vaccinated people in the coming days – but officials are confident they will be sent out in time for July 19th.
He noted that while the cert will make things “pretty straightforward” for vaccinated and immune people, very little is changing for everyone else.
“That means there will be testing requirements in both directions,” he said. “In the Irish case, we don’t know if we are going to update the requirement that everybody must self-isolate for 14 days and they also need a PCR test 72 hours before their return.
“Outbound, almost every country accepts an antigen test.”
The Government has yet to decide whether it will accept antigen testing. The Junior Minister for eGovernment Ossian Smyth previously said antigen tests could be accepted if they were carried out by professional testing companies.
People carrying the cert are not expected to face self-isolation on their return.
Mr Corry said the cost of testing has “come down a little bit” in recent months – noting that it now costs around €90 for a PCR test and €50 for an antigen test.
“The key difference really is not so much the cost but the convenience,” he said.
“The PCR has to be done the day before at least and maybe up to three days before to get your email saying you been cleared to go and it has a QR code which then you present at the gate.
“Antigen can be done much more quickly. It is about a ten or 20-minute wait and you get a test.
“The technology is awesome. The likes of Ryanair - everybody will be familiar with a Ryanair Boarding pass - there is an element as you check-in where you can upload your COVID documentation and then … at the gate you scan in your boarding pass QR code and then you scan in the code for your COVID pass.”
Currently, people are advised not to travel for non-essential reasons.
From July 19th people will legally be allowed to go on foreign holidays; however, it is believed the public health advice no to travel abroad will remain in place.
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