EU digital passes delay will deny 1.5 million Irish travel rights – Ryanair
Delaying the issuance of EU digital passes until July 19 will deprive more than 1.5 million Irish of the right to travel, Ryanair chief Eddie Wilson warned on Thursday.
The EU will officially launch its Covid digital certificate, aimed at restoring free movement in the bloc, on July 1, but the Republic is waiting 18 days to implement the system.
Mr Wilson, managing director of Ryanair DAC, the Irish airline group’s largest subsidiary, warned that the wait would prevent more than 1.5 million vaccinated adults from traveling freely.
Ryanair is asking Transport Minister Eamon Ryan to explain why the Republic does not issue any certificates until July 19, while 24 other EU member states implemented the system in June.
Mr Wilson also pointed out that the Republic had not provided up-to-date information on infection rates here at the European Center for Disease Control (ECDC).
This means that the Republic has been classified as “gray” or “not enough data” on the center traffic light map, which gives citizens information on the safest areas for travel.
The Health Services Executive blamed the problems resulting from last May’s cyberattack on its systems on delays in providing information to ECDC.
Ryanair has joined with other aviation and tourism companies in criticizing the state for refusing to accept quick and cheap antigen testing for travel.
The government continues to favor more expensive and slower PCR testing on the advice of the national public health emergency team.
Mr Wilson accused the government of causing untold damage to the economy and tourism businesses by delaying the reopening, leaving the state behind all other European nations.
“With over 1.5 million Irish adults fully vaccinated, fewer than 45 Covid patients in hospital and fewer than 15 in intensive care units, there is no reason for further delays,” he argued .
He said the Republic remains locked up because of a variant in another country.
EU Covid digital certificates allow free movement to all citizens of Member States who are vaccinated or immunized against the virus or who have proof of a negative test.
All citizens are entitled to certificates free of charge. Officials from the European Commission and members of the European Parliament have pointed out that Covid-19 has not taken away the right to free movement.