Tens of thousands of recovered COVID patients may not qualify for the EU’s international travel pass following confusion over eligibility rules.
The Government expects to ease restrictions on international travel from July 19th – when Ireland introduces the EU Digital Green Certificate.
The cert will allow people to travel anywhere in the EU – provided they are fully vaccinated, have fully recovered from COVID or undergo a negative COVID test in the 72 hours before travelling.
The Government has previously said the cert will be available to patients who were diagnosed with the virus in the nine months before travel – a position the Junior Minister for eGovernment Ossian Smyth reiterated in the Seanad earlier this week.
However, the European Commission states that the cert will only be available to people diagnosed within 180 days of traveling – just short of six months.
A Government spokesperson has now confirmed to Newstalk that 180 days is the correct period.
He said the criteria is a “moving target” and noted that nine months was previously proposed. He also noted that the EU retains the right to increase or shorten the period in the future.
It means just under 128,500 people who would have been able to get the cert when it comes available on July 19th will now not qualify through their COVID immunity.
Under the nine-month period, people planning to travel on July 19th would have been eligible provided they were diagnosed from October 18th 2020.
However, under the 180-day period, that date moves forward to January 20th, 2021.
According to the Department of Health, there were 129,362 coronavirus cases confirmed in Ireland between those dates.
There were 916 COVID-related deaths recorded in the same period.
Should the 180-day period remain in force, around 128,500 patients who would have been eligible for the cert will now need to be vaccinated or sit a negative test to apply.