COVID-19 vaccine, negative test and recovery certificates approved for Derry pubs, restaurants and cafés
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The measure is among a range of sustained actions that Health Minister Robin Swann said are needed to drive down the north's COVID-19 infection rate.
He said: “Certification must be seen as one piece in a jigsaw of required measures. Other measures include significantly increased use of face coverings, more people working from home and more social distancing. We need to limit our contacts and always be mindful of the importance of fresh air and good ventilation in dispersing COVID-19 particles.
“We also need to continue the acceleration of our vaccine booster roll-out, and keep encouraging more people to come forward for their first and second doses.
“The case for COVID certification in hospitality is not complicated. It can reduce the number of infected people in high risk settings. Vaccinated people are less likely to become infected and ill than unvaccinated people. And the virus is only transmitted by infected people."
Mr. Swann said the COVID-19 transmission rate is too high and the measure is necessary to forcibly push it down. He also refused to rule out further restrictions.
"Our health and social care system is under severe stress. We have to act. Let me also emphasise that I do not want to see further COVID restrictions on our economy or our daily lives. Such a decision is far from inevitable.
“We can all play our part in altering the direction of this pandemic. It is in all our hands. By following public health advice we can help keep each other safe and support our health workers.
“We all want this pandemic to be over, but simply wishing it away is never going to be enough. A united effort across society is what is needed to get us through this winter.”
COVID certification requires proof of full vaccination status, or a negative Lateral Flow Test in the previous 48 hours, or proof of recovery from a positive PCR test in the previous 30 – 180 days.
The hospitality lobby has expressed disappointment at the decision.
Reacting to the move to impose mandatory COVID-19 vaccine, negative test or recovery certificates Colin Neill, Chief Executive, Hospitality Ulster said: “There is real concern from our industry that businesses owners, who are already struggling to recover and now face the most critical period of the year, will be the ones who must be the enforcers of the scheme, and it is our staff that will face the abuse.
“Evidence shows that this will negatively impact footfall and increase costs in the most important part of the year."