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First Minister Paul Givan urges NI Covid passport to be ‘withdrawn in all settings’


First Minister Paul Givan: Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

First Minister Paul Givan: Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

First Minister Paul Givan: Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Northern Ireland’s First Minister has called for the Covid-19 vaccine certificate system to be “withdrawn in all settings” after the Republic of Ireland announced the removal of passes in the hospitality sector.

On Friday the Irish Government confirmed the use of Covid passports in hospitality settings will be removed, although they will still be required for international travel.

On Thursday the Northern Ireland Executive announced the use of vaccine passports would be dropped in pubs, restaurants and cinemas from Wednesday – however they will still be required in nightclubs and apply to indoor unseated or partially seated events with 500 people or more.

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Mr Givan has previously confirmed it is the DUP’s position the passes should be dropped entirely.

In a tweet following the changes in the Republic of Ireland, the First Minister said the measure should be “withdrawn”.

“It is my continued view that Mandatory Covid Passports should be withdrawn in ‘all’ settings. As RoI [Republic of Ireland] withdraws its use NI should not be disadvantaged.

“I stand ready to remove it completely in Northern Ireland with the support of other parties in the NI Executive.”

Earlier on Friday, Northern Ireland’s Health Minister Robin Swann said the Covid certificate system had kept some hospitality businesses open over Christmas.

“We were able to utilise it to keep some of our hospitality sector open where other areas were actually closing theirs down or having curfews,” he said.

“Covid certification is an international requirement when it comes to travel, so it’s not something that is going to disappear overnight, so people should not get into the mindset that that’s it, over and done with.”

Ministers are set to consider the remaining restrictions on February 10.

Mr Swann said they will have to take account of how things stand at that point with cases, and whether another variant has emerged.

“I have always taken the decision at the time in regards to the advice that was put forward via my chief medical officer and chief scientific adviser, so February 10, while it will be a key date, let’s make sure we get there safely and as collectively as we can,” he told reporters at Dunsilly, Co Antrim.

“I would still encourage people to follow the guidance, follow the regulations that are still in place and take the opportunities to come forward and get their vaccines and their boosters.

“There are three weeks to go and I want to keep the trajectory of this virus going in the same direction as it has been, and that’s downwards.”

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