Updated Covid certs to be issued from midnight, says Minister

Updated certs with proof of booster shot will soon be needed to gain access to hospitality

The Government has said that updated digital Covid certs will be sent via email from tonight (Thursday) to people who have had their booster shots.

Minister of State for Public Procurement and eGovernment Ossian Smyth said the new certs are being issued as the EU will be introducing new rules on travel from February 1st.

Updated Covid-19 certs with proof of a booster shot will also soon be needed to gain access to hospitality.

Hospital Report

A time has not yet been set for introducing this requirement as the Government wants to wait until more people have had a chance to get their booster dose. Taoiseach Micheál Martin confirmed the plan.

“In the fullness of time, yes, I think, but not shorter than that,” he said. “The HSE are now working on including the booster within the vaccine record and cert.”

“Now Government decisions will have to be taken then in terms of the policy implication of that, but it is very clear to us that the benefits of the booster are very significant right now in preventing infection but above all in preventing severe illness from Omicron.”

Under new rules set by the European Commission the EU Digital Covid-19 Certificate will soon only be valid for nine months.

The process of sending out the new certs would commence tonight via email to everyone who had a booster shot, Mr Smyth told Newstalk Breakfast.

If for some reason a person does not have an email address, then they will receive a text message by phone which will give step by step instructions on how to access the cert, he added.

When asked if the new cert would be required for indoor hospitality in the near future, Mr Smyth said that at present the plan was for it to be used for international travel. While other countries in Europe were requiring proof of a booster for access to some facilities, that was not yet the plan in Ireland.

Vaccinated people arriving into the country from overseas will no longer have to get a clear Covid-19 test.

Since early December, when the threat of the Omicron variant emerged, all arriving passengers have needed either a negative PCR test or a negative antigen test, regardless of vaccination status.

However, this requirement has been removed following Cabinet approval on Wednesday. This means that vaccinated people with a valid digital Covid certificate or another valid proof of recent infection or vaccination will not need a test. Unvaccinated people will need a “not detected” PCR test result taken within 72 hours of their arrival into Ireland.

Meanwhile, pre-departure Covid tests for travellers arriving in Northern Ireland are to be scrapped. The North’s Department of Health said on Thursday that fully vaccinated passengers and under-18s will no longer need to take a pre-departure test or self-isolate on arrival, from 4am on Friday.

Fully vaccinated passengers are still required to complete a passenger locator form and take a test on or before day two of their arrival. From Sunday, this can be either a lateral flow or PCR test. Anyone with a positive lateral flow test will be required to book a free confirmatory PCR test and isolate. If the PCR is negative, the isolation period can end.