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Fresh frustration for NI holidaymakers as Covid certificate system relaunch delayed

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There has been fresh disruption for Northern Ireland holidaymakers on Friday morning, as the relaunch of an online certificate system was delayed.

The Covid Certification Scheme was launched on the NI Direct website as a way for travellers to apply for a vaccine certificate.

Last week however, the service was paused as a result of a technical issue, with the Department of Health issuing a statement on Thursday evening advising it would be available at 9am on Friday.

Come 9am, there was frustration however, as those trying to access the service were greeted with an error message saying: “Our services aren’t available right now. We’re working to restore all services as soon as possible”.

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Error message greeting users

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Frustrated users took to social media complaining their holiday plans could be affected.

Gemma Lundy wrote: “This still isn't working and I need a vaccine cert ASAP, phoneline has been cut off and no one replies to email - what are we meant to do?”

Catherine O’Melvena added: “Flying on Sunday, page is still down! It's past 9am!”

Jeremiah Donald wrote: “I'm due to fly to Spain at 9:30 tomorrow morning and the system is still not working. Have phoned twice and been told to phone back later each time.”

The Department of Health has been approached for a response.

Earlier on Friday, the department’s Dr Eddie O’Neill said his team had been working extensively to manually approve certificates while the online systems were being fixed.

"Essentially, we took down the service on Tuesday - the full service - because we were concerned about data security,” he told the show.

"We took the only responsible action that we could. In the background, we've still been issuing certificates.

“In the background we have still been issuing certificates. In that space we have issued over 4,048 certificates in the last three days.

“We have been keeping the lights on, but it has just been frantic in the background trying to make sure we can make sure we get something up and running for people on August 1.

“I have had developers working to 5am this morning and they are up again at 7, teams working through to try and get a solution in place.”

On the NI Direct website, the department said: “The Northern Ireland COVID Certification Service will be available from early afternoon on Friday 30 July for those travelling on 1 August 2021 in the first instance.

“Some applications will be processed manually and applicants will be contacted by email on what to do as they progress.

“While service has resumed it is being managed in a controlled and phased way and will be strictly limited to the dates highlighted.

“The first process will involve proof of identity, and then will notify you on requesting a certificate.

“Further information will follow tomorrow for those travelling after 1 August 2021.

“The Department of Health insists that those travelling outside of the 1 August do not apply, or they will simply delay the full restoration of normal services.”


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