Minister will do ‘all he can’ to get Covid certificates from stranded Irish holidaymakers

Updated 1 hour ago

STATE MINISTER Ossian Smyth expressed concern to learn that Irish holidaymakers in Malta have been placed in compulsory quarantine because their HSE vaccination cards were not accepted.

Smyth said he would do everything possible to ensure that new certificates are sent to those affected.

It is understood that a number of people have been informed by Maltese authorities that their HSE vaccination certificates were not considered valid proof of their vaccination status upon arrival this week.

Malta, an EU member state, is part of the Covid Digital Certificate System (DCC), but those traveling there must be fully vaccinated to enter the country without having to quarantine.

Most countries, including Ireland, allow entry without quarantine into the country if passengers can prove that they are either fully vaccinated, have recovered from Covid-19 within the past six months, or that they may produce a recent negative test.

Malta, however, has stricter entry rules and requires people to be fully vaccinated to avoid having to self-quarantine at a designated hotel. Minister Smyth had reassured potential travelers who had not received their DCC prior to the July 19 trip that they should not need them, as long as they were could prove their vaccination status.

A DCC is not an advantage to travel to the EU this summer as other documents are also accepted, but the DCC was created to streamline the control system.

Yesterday The newspaper reported that several passengers on Ryanair flight FR7242, which touched down at midnight in Malta on Monday evening from Dublin, were told that their HSE vaccine certificate was not sufficient proof.

The exact numbers involved have not been confirmed, but it is believed that around 20 people were on the plane with perhaps seven or eight Irish who did not have DCCs and encountered issues.

A passenger, who has a DCC but whose girlfriend does not, said The newspaper that their HSE vaccination certificate was not accepted when the couple landed in Malta. This despite checking his HSE certificate before boarding the flight to Dublin.

The Transport Department said it has contacted Ryanair and will also liaise with Maltese authorities about requirements to travel to the country.

Today, a spokesperson for Minister Smyth said he had overseen the successful distribution of one million Covid digital certificates by email and one million certificates by mail since the start of last week.

“Unfortunately, there is a small proportion of cases where certificates have not yet arrived and it is hoped that most of them will be received in the next few days,” they said.

“The Minister is concerned to hear about the experience of some Irish people in Malta and will do everything possible to ensure that new certificates are sent to those affected. Minister Smyth, as he has done before, is also reportedly urging people to check the Reopen EU website for the entry requirements of the country they are visiting before leaving. “

The minister and officials have reportedly been in contact with some of those forced to self-quarantine and hopes have been expressed that the issue will be resolved soon.

In a statement released today, the Irish Travel Agents Association advised potential vacationers to check the rules and regulations of their destination country before departure, and also to check with their travel agent for advice. latest in international travel.

The ITAA has also advised travelers to book with a licensed travel agent, as this provides additional protection for consumers should something go wrong.

The ITAA said this situation is specific to Malta, “as they are currently the only European country to refuse fully vaccinated travelers with HSE vaccination cards; this is not the case in other EU countries.

The Association called on the government to liaise with the Maltese authorities and immediately issue digital certificates to affected passengers.

Paul Hackett, President of ITAA, said: “To our knowledge, Malta is the only country in the EU that refuses to accept HSE vaccine certificates. This is a situation that can be easily and quickly rectified if the government issues DCCs to all affected travelers. The DCC helpline is also under-resourced, which needs to be addressed as international travel continues to reopen. “

Reopen the EU

After widely reported issues with the Irish DCC helpline on Monday, additional resources were put in place yesterday, but many people still reported issues with resolution.

A second toll-free number was then set up to deal with “urgent requests only”.

DCC is an EU standardized system for streamlining traveller’s checks, but the advice given by the Irish Foreign Office is to check the restrictions in place in the country you are traveling to before departure using the website ReOpen EU.

The advice page for people traveling to Malta from Ireland was last updated on Monday.

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It states that people can travel within the country if they are fully vaccinated and have a vaccination certificate recognized by the Public Health Superintendent of Malta.

In addition to the DCC, it lists recognized vaccination certificates such as those from Malta, UK, UAE, Turkey or USA.

Speaking to the Oireachtas health committee this morning, An Taoiseach Department Assistant General Secretary Liz Canavan said the Foreign Ministry was liaising with authorities and had been in direct contact with a number of affected citizens who traveled without DCC.

“Regarding Malta in particular, we understand that Malta has indicated that DCC is a requirement,” she said.

“On the Reopen EU webpage, they have indicated that they will not accept handwritten certificates. But the situation underlines our advice to all travelers, it is essential that they become familiar with the arrival rules and process requirements of the destination country.

“There is a lot of information available online and we urge anyone traveling to consult the online resources before finalizing their plans. “

– With a report by Ronán Duffy.

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