People ‘on hold’ for hours as Covid cert helpline mired in difficulties

Lengthy delays and disconnections have continued to blight the Government’s Digital Covid Certificate helpline, despite moves to increase capacity.

The government had a “difficult day” on Monday in coping with the demand for the DCC helpline, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said.

To deal with the backlogs with the helpline, the government established an additional call line from Tuesday morning which has capacity to take a far higher number of calls.

Senior government sources said that as a result, the person ringing would not get the ‘call failed’ message. Despite this move, lengthy delays were still being reported to the new phone line.

Many people took to social media to vent their anger at the delays with some complaining of being cut off after being on hold for over an hour.

As a result, thousands of people due to fly out of the country in the coming days have been advised to get a PCR test as a “workaround” to the call centre problem.

Mr Donohoe accepted the staff numbers working in the call centre were not sufficient to meet the high demand from the public who were experiencing long delays and disconnections when attempting to retrieve their certs to allow them to travel.

The Finance Minister confirmed the Government move to establish a second helpline which was intended to improve matters.

“We did have a difficult day with regard to it yesterday (Monday), but the government has taken steps now to set up a new line on board as additional support so that potential travellers can get their questions answered,” he said.

I know there was a huge amount of contact in the call centre yesterday, but I understand the second line has now been established, to deal with the queries, and the need for clarity that lots of our citizens have who are looking to travel.

The easing of travel restrictions boosted flight numbers by around 25% on Monday, official figures show. The lifting of restrictions saw a significant boost in the number of flights in or out of the State to 393 on Monday from 313 on Sunday.

The figures were published by air navigation organisation, Eurocontrol.

However, the same numbers show that on Monday July 22, 2019, there were 955 flights in and out of the Republic, meaning that traffic is still trailing pre-Covid levels by 60%.

Meanwhile, Mr Donohoe also said the return of indoor dining is safe and will be run on the basis of agreed protocols with the hospitality sector.

Speaking at Government Buildings, he said a plan currently being finalised between officials and representatives of the hospitality sector offers a balanced approach to managing the risk and allowing society to re-open.

“Of course, there is a risk there in the future, which is why we need a protocol; which is why we’re outlining the three-stage process to allow the safe restoration of indoor dining, and if that protocol is implemented, it gives us the best chance of reducing the risk,” he said.

He accepted that that no approach is risk-free when it comes to Covid-19.

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