One million digital Covid certs expected to be issued by Wednesday

Committee told the aim is to issue 1.9 million digital Covid certificates by July 19th

An electronic Covid Certificate displayed on a smartphone. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

An electronic Covid Certificate displayed on a smartphone. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

People are being urged to check their spam email folder for their digital Covid cert (DCC), as the State ramps up the rollout of the document to hundreds of thousands of people this week.

Around 12,000 emails were sent to people containing the digital cert last night, as a trial run, the Oireachtas transport committee was told on Tuesday.

A further 160,000 were sent by post, the committee was told by Liz Canavan, a senior official in the Department of the Taoiseach, who chairs the group of civil servants charged with the rollout.

She said people should check their spam for an email from the Department of Health, if they haven’t yet received it.

Another 750,000 emails will be sent by close of play, with around one million to be sent by lunchtime tomorrow.

In her opening statement to the committee, Ms Canavan said the Department of Health is setting up an emergency helpline for those receiving the cert - but she urged that only those travelling very soon contact it.

The intended use of the helpline is to help people who are facing pressing issues, such as discrepancies between the name on their passport and that on their certificate.

A full call centre will go live on July 19th, the committee was told, when the Digital Covid Certificate (DCC) system goes live. People can apply for a DCC if they are vaccinated, have a confirmed Covid infection within six months, or have a recent test result.

While the certificates can be generated by those in receipt of an antigen test result, current Government guidelines stipulate a PCR test result is required to enter the country.

The committee also heard that there are plans to make the DCC available through the existing Covid tracker app during the week of July 19th.

Once that is available, it can be stored in someone’s “wallet” in their phone - however, until then, it can be presented as an email on someone’s phone or device, or a physical copy.

Strictly speaking, the certificate is not a requirement for travel, but Ministers have warned proving vaccination, recent infection or a test result may be more cumbersome and time consuming for travellers without it.

The committee also heard that there may be legislative or policy work needed if the app used to scan the certs is deployed outside travel settings - there has been some discussion of whether it can be used, along with the certs, in hospitality settings.

Ms Canavan told the committee the State is working “full on” to try and get 1.9 million certificates out by the 19th July.

“It will be very close to the wire, we may run past the 19th,” she said, adding that many more people will become eligible for the cert every day, which may add to a backlog.

It’s anticipated around one per cent of emails will bounce back, with Revenue working to print between 70,000-90,000 certificates per day.

Kieran O’Donnell, the committee chair, was told that it isn’t possible to say whether equivalent certifications from other jurisdictions outside the EU will be recognised by 19th July, but that for arrivals from countries like the US, UK and elsewhere, the overriding advice will apply.

This means vaccinated people are not obliged to quarantine, but for those with a recent infection, she said that situation has not been “fully clarified” and is a “matter for Government”. Work is ongoing at EU level on the “interoperability” of certs issued by non-EU countries, she said.