Irish people arriving in Malta without Covid cert face hotel quarantine

Couple ‘left stuck in a gray area’ after authorities decline to accept negative PCR test

The helpline for information on the Digital Covid Cert has had a high volume of calls, leading to long delays for callers. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins

The helpline for information on the Digital Covid Cert has had a high volume of calls, leading to long delays for callers. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins

 

Some Irish people who have travelled to Malta without a Digital Covid Cert (DCC), having been unable to obtain one before departure, are now being forced to complete mandatory hotel quarantine there.

One holidaymaker who arrived in Malta on Monday night told The Irish Times that he had presented a DCC showing he was fully vaccinated but his girlfriend’s certificate had not arrived on time despite her being fully vaccinated three weeks ago.

He said her HSE vaccination card was not accepted upon landing nor was her negative PCR test. “She called the helpline last week and they said it shouldn’t be a problem. As a backup she also went and got a PCR test because at the time they were saying that was fine. Then we got there last night and they said that wasn’t valid anymore,” he said.

The couple have to pay for a hotel in Malta for the 14 days unless the woman’s vaccine certificate comes through via email, which they have been contacting the helpline to arrange.

“They said they have escalated it so hopefully it comes through. Otherwise we’re stuck here. But we are not an isolated case. About half the people on the flight were put into quarantine,” he said.

The hotel they had booked for their holiday stay is allowing the couple to push their booking out, but they are “more concerned” about getting there before their holidays run out.

“We’re not sure what to do. It’s quite hard to believe that it’s just an email they have to send. They had all her details when we rang up so you’d think it’s as simple as just clicking send,” said the man.

Several other holidaymakers who arrived in the country without a DCC are similarly being forced to quarantine.

Malta is part of the DCC system alongside other EU member states, but is only allowing those who are fully vaccinated to enter the country without having to quarantine.

Most other EU member states, including Ireland, are allowing entry into the country without mandatory hotel quarantine if passengers can show that they are either fully vaccinated, have recovered from Covid-19 in the past six months or can produce a negative PCR test.

Many people have experienced delays in receiving their DCCs to prove vaccination or recent recovery from Covid-19, with the helpline for the queries overwhelmed this week. A second freephone helpline number has been set up to cater for the high volume of calls.

On Tuesday, users again complained of being left hours waiting for a response. The Department of Health admitted that many people will have been waiting for 90 minutes or more.