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Summer plans in disarray as Covid passport rollout in NI branded ‘calamitous’

Belfast International Airport

Families have been left in a state of limbo due to the farcical rollout of Covid vaccine certification in Northern Ireland, according to one south Armagh MLA.

The SDLP’s Justin McNulty says his office has been “completely inundated with calls and emails from distressed families whose summer holiday plans have been thrown into disarray and doubt”.

“The process for providing proof of vaccination has been a calamity – individuals and families have been totally let down by the collapse of the Covid Cert NI system,” he added.

The Covid-19 vaccine certification system was temporarily suspended on Tuesday and had not resume as planned on Friday morning.

Mr McNulty added: “People and hard working families have all made huge sacrifices in following the rules from the start of this pandemic.

“They have been literally hunkering down for 16 months and now that travel for leisure is permitted once again, many families were looking forward to a summer break, to an escape, to a release, and a return to some form of normality.

“A huge number of people are now trapped in a state of limbo, waiting for their vaccine certificate to come through, and are worried sick at the prospect of being denied the right to fly, or even being required to quarantine for the duration of their holiday upon arrival.

“I have made urgent contact with the Joint First Ministers, as well as the Minister for Health on this issue.

“This mess has been brought about for no other reason than the shambolic mismanagement of the process surrounding vaccination certification.

“In addition to being faced with the prospect of losing thousands of pounds in travel expenses, many families are now having to fork out huge sums of money for last minute PCR or antigen tests, without even knowing whether they will be able to proceed with their travel arrangements.

“My message here is clear – families and individuals should not be expected to pay out of their own pocket because of the incompetence of others – anyone who has had to outlay money for PCR tests as a consequence of the failings of the Covid Cert NI system should be immediately recompensed. It’s as simple as that.”

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