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'It's not a helpline if it doesn't help' - Woman 13 hours on hold for COVID Cert

A Dublin-based writer, who spent 13 hours on hold on the COVID Certificate helpline, says she doe...
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

13.51 3 Aug 2021


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'It's not a helpline if it doe...

'It's not a helpline if it doesn't help' - Woman 13 hours on hold for COVID Cert

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

13.51 3 Aug 2021


Share this article


A Dublin-based writer, who spent 13 hours on hold on the COVID Certificate helpline, says she doesn't know where to turn next.

Sarah Rees-Brennan has been fully vaccinated since May, as she is in a high-risk group.

She had planned to travel to Malta but was waiting for her EU COVID cert to arrive.

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She told Lunchtime Live the helpline was her last hope.

"It hadn't arrived in the post or the e-mail, so I got on the helpline - though I had been warned about the wait time.

"The first time I tried I was on for an hour and then I was cut off... the next day I was on hold for six and a half hours.

"I'm a writer so I can be flexible, but people with regular jobs or kids couldn't do it.

"And I did clean my whole house, it's never been so clean."

Sarah says she eventually got through to someone who gave her reassurances.

"I was talking to a very nice lady and she said that it was all in order and I would have my cerificate in five days.

"I had flights booked, so I wanted to be super-safe so I changed the flights... and then I was waiting and nothing came."

She then got on to the online portal for COVID certs, which again directed her to the helpline.

"The portal told me they needed more information when all the information was confirmed on the phone.

"The portal told me to go back to the helpline - so I went back to the helpline, and then I was on for another six and a half hours."

Eventually getting through again, she was told there was an issue that had not been spotted the first time and it would be another five days before her cert arrived.

"But they also told me it would be 'fine' if I got a PCR test from one of the Gov.ie providers.

"And I questioned that to where I was going - which was Malta - and they were like 'Yes you can get a digital cert from one of these providers'.

"So I went and I got my PCR test - which shockingly was negative - and with my negative PCR test and my HSE card in hand I went to the airport".

But Sarah says she was stopped in Dublin, as Malta only accepts the EU Digital COVID Cert as proof of vaccination.

"I was a little uncertain about it, but I figured the helpline people know more than me.

"Instead, I was left at the boarding gate trying to get my already checked-in luggage back - and pounding on the glass of the door to attract the attention of my travelling companion who was climbing the steps to the airplane".

Sarah, who is is still waiting on her cert, says her options are limited.

"Everyone on the helpline was nice, but the system was broken and it's not a helpline if it doesn't help.

"Once I hang up with you, it's either back on the helpline or perhaps just lying face-first on the floor".

Main image via @sarahreesbrenna on Twitter

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