COVID Certification Scheme
Following the publication of the Amended Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) that came into effect on Monday 29th November 2021 relating to the implementation of the COVID Certification Scheme, Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Environmental Health and Business teams are providing guidance and support to relevant businesses across the Council area.
The regulations were introduced from 5pm on 29 November, with a 2-week grace period which will end on 13th December 2021 and Council has been liaising with local businesses through various communication channels including email, direct mail and via the Council website, this week, advising them of this and signposting them to where they can obtain the current legislation and guidance as it becomes available.
These Regulations amend the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021 to introduce provisions regarding the requirement to show proof of COVID-status Certification to gain entry into relevant settings.
According to the Government guidance, the accepted evidence is proof of full vaccination, the last dose of which was received at least 14 days prior to the relevant time, a negative COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test, taken within the previous 48 hours or proof of recovery from a positive COVID-19 PCR test, within the previous 30-180 days. It is our understanding that COVID vaccination cards are not deemed to be valid certification.
Council has been advised that only venues which provide or sell intoxicating liquor for consumption on the premises are currently included. Therefore, if licensed premises decide not to sell or provide intoxicating liquor they will not need certification at this point. However, it is our understanding that this will only be for a short period of time, as it is anticipated that regulations will be implemented to cover all hospitality.
The legislation also applies to sports grounds and anywhere else which allows the drink to be consumed on the premises. This is regardless of numbers attending. Hotels will have a specific exemption to allow guests to stay, but the guests won’t be able to access any hospitality areas without certification. In summary- If alcohol is being consumed on the premises then they will require COVID certification measures.
The legislation states that a person may provide evidence of their COVID status through (a) certification in paper or electronic form that Person has completed a course of doses of an authorised vaccine with the final dose having been received at least 14 days before the relevant time; (b) certification by text or email through the NHS Covid-19 reporting app of a negative result of a COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test or a negative result of an onsite COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test, in each case taken within 48 hours before the relevant time; (c) a valid notification of a positive result of a COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction test taken no earlier than 30 days, and no later than 180 days, before the relevant time; (d) confirmation in writing of their participation (current or past) in a clinical trial for vaccination against coronavirus from the organiser of that trial; (e) evidence provided through the Northern Ireland COVID Certification process for medical exemption, or an equivalent process in Persons place of residence if Person is not resident in Northern Ireland, of a clinical reason for not being vaccinated with any authorised vaccine.
Evidence must include or be accompanied by a document confirming the person’s identity which contains the person’s name as stated on the evidence provided, and a photograph of the person.
Council officers are also available to assist with any enquiries from businesses and members of the public regarding the Scheme and any other Covid-19 related enquiries and complaints regarding premises for which Council has an enforcement role.
The Council’s Business Support Team are also available to provide support to local businesses through its Covid Assurance Scheme and the “COVID Reassurance Mark” set up last year to support local, economic recovery and revitalisation whilst respecting the public health controls needed to maintain public health and minimise community transmission of Coronavirus.
This initiative has been rolled out City and District wide to businesses within the tourism, hospitality, retail and close contact sectors initially however other sectors can apply if they wish to be considered for the scheme. This initiative is geared towards boosting customer confidence to return to our town centres and villages in the knowledge that businesses are taking positive steps to keep their customers and staff safe via a risk assessed process.
The Environmental Health team will continue to monitor changes to legislation and government guidance on the extension of the COVID Certification Scheme and provide further updates to relevant businesses on the scheme as appropriate.
The Council is also continuing to work with the PSNI with regard to their role in enforcing the Regulations and the MoU arrangements as agreed.
Further information on the scheme is available on the following websites:
NI Business Info: