Surely Covid isn't a thing when we're travelling any more, is it? Sadly it is. As recently as Thursday, a key group within the European Parliament backed proposals to extend the application of the digital Covid certificate (DCC) for a further 12 months so it will be with us until the end of June 2023, at the very earliest.
Brilliant. Can you remind me what the digital Covid cert is again? Ah you remember! It's the QR code thingy that proves you've been vaccinated against Covid-19 or received a negative test result or recovered from the virus. You used to have to show it when you wanted to go to a restaurant in Ireland or the gym or theatre or cinema. It is no longer needed for those things but that doesn't meant it isn't needed for anything.
Okay, so what is it needed for? The idea of the DCC was to facilitate the reopening of travel across Europe last summer and, while it was adapted for other purposes, that remains its primary function.
So, do I need to show the cert when I am travelling? That really depends. If you are travelling to the UK from Ireland you don't need to show any documentation. If you're travelling to Ireland from somewhere else you won't need to show your DCC either. But some other countries are much more strict about how it is imposed. Before you travel you should check what the rules are where you are going.
Ah here, how I am I supposed to do that? Helpfully the EU has a dedicated site for that very purpose – https://reopen.europa.eu/en/. It outlines the rules for each country in Europe and should be your first port of call.
I got my vaccines last summer – am I covered? Hmm, we'd check that if we were you. In February the rules changed and the DCC expires after nine months or 270 days.
Why were they changed? Because Covid immunity starts to wane in the months after we are jabbed. The change means that anyone who received their vaccine before the end of last July will have an expired DCC. If they received a booster they will be good for a further nine months after that.
I couldn't get my booster because I had Covid. But I should be okay because I can just get the recovery cert, can't I? Um, maybe. You should be able to get it once you've had a PCR test to confirm you had Covid.
Hang on, I had Covid but I followed the new rules. I did the home antigen test as I was told to, and I wasn't allowed to get a PCR test. But I have recovered now so how do I prove I had Covid? Well, that's a problem. The HSE is very clear. "Reporting a positive antigen test cannot be used as proof of recovery to get a Covid-19 recovery certificate. If you had a positive antigen test and you need a Covid-19 recovery certificate you should book a PCR test."
What is the point of them telling me that now? It's too late. So what do I do? If you need to travel you still have options. You can get a booster now and you'll be grand for the next nine months or you can wait until 48 hours before you travel and get a negative PCR test or get an antigen test within a shorter window. The downside of that is those results might be positive in which case you won't be able to travel anywhere.