Delaying the issue of EU digital passes to July 19th will deny more than 1.5 million Irish people the right to travel, Ryanair chief Eddie Wilson, warned on Thursday.
The EU will formally launch its digital Covid certificate, aimed at restoring free movement in the bloc, on July 1st, but the Republic is waiting 18 days to implement the system.
Mr Wilson, chief executive of Ryanair DAC, the Irish airline group’s biggest subsidiary, warned that the wait would block more than 1.5 million vaccinated adults from travelling freely.
Ryanair is calling for Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan to explain why the Republic is not issuing any certificates until July 19th, while 24 other EU member states implemented the system in June.
Mr Wilson also pointed out that the Republic had not been supplying up to date information on infection rates here to the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC).
This means the Republic has been classed as “grey” or “not enough data” on the centre’s traffic light map, which gives citizens information on which regions are safest for travel.
The Health Services Executive has blamed problems resulting from last May’s cyber attack on its systems for delays in providing information to the ECDC.
Ryanair joined other aviation and tourism businesses in criticising the State for refusing to accept quick, cheap antigen tests for travel.
The Government continues to favour more expensive and slower PCR screening on the National Public Health Emergency Team’s advice.
Mr Wilson accused the Government of doing untold damage to the economy and tourism businesses by stalling re-opening, leaving the State lagging all other European nations.
“With over 1.5 million Irish adults fully vaccinated, less than 45 Covid patients in hospital and less than 15 in intensive care units, there is no justification for any further delays,” he argued.
He declared that the Republic remained locked down because of a variant in another country.
The EU digital Covid certificates allow free movement to all member state citizens who are vaccinated or immune from the virus or have proof of a negative test.
All citizens are entitled to the certificates for free. European Commission officials and members of the European Parliament have pointed out Covid-19 did not eliminate the right to freedom of movement.