Government warned of difficulties of Covid-19 vaccination checks

The Government confirmed on Tuesday that drinking and eating inside bars and restaurants will be delayed for several weeks.
Government warned of difficulties of Covid-19 vaccination checks

By Cate McCurry and Jonathan McCambridge, PA

Any digital system to check if people have been vaccinated against Covid-19 will be difficult to operate, an IT expert has warned.

The Government confirmed on Tuesday that drinking and eating inside bars and restaurants will be delayed for several weeks.

It had been due to resume on July 5th. Instead the Government now plans to allow indoor dining to resume in the coming weeks for those who are fully vaccinated or who have immunity from the virus.

The Government said it will devise an implementation plan for this by July 19th.

Dr Ronan Kennedy, a legal academic at NUI who specialises in IT, said that a paper-based system of checking vaccinations would be easier to operate but would be vulnerable to forgeries.

Dr Kennedy said: “From a technology perspective, this could be difficult. A paper certificate system would be simple to administer, but easy to forge.

“If the intention is to have a digital system which verifies an identity against a central database, like the EU digital Covid certificate, that requires some sort of terminal that can scan a bar code and run a check.

“Installing these in every pub and restaurant across the country, or rolling out a mobile app, would be quite a task.

“If there isn’t already a record of everyone who has been vaccinated, individuals would need to register, which could also be quite a job. It could perhaps piggyback on the EU digital certificate.”

Dr Kennedy also warned that there would be data protection implications for the plans.

He said: “Any data processing would need a lawful basis, particularly as health data is sensitive.

“The GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) does allow processing for public health purposes, but it has to be ‘necessary’ and there has to be legislation with ‘suitable and specific measures’ to protect individual rights.

“Reopening hospitality might not be sufficiently in the public interest to justify this, and developing sufficiently detailed legislation in a short time would be challenging.”

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