Update on Covid certification scheme

Date published: 26 November 2021

The Department of Health can confirm that regulations for the Covid certification scheme will be laid on Monday November 29.

The regulations will be laid in draft form on Monday, but will require Assembly approval to become operational.

This also reflects the Executive’s decision that there should be a grace period before the scheme took full effect, with no enforcement until December 13. The grace period on the scheme will facilitate a bedding-in of the regulations.

In relation to the hospitality sector, Covid certification scheme will only be mandatory for licensed premises at this stage - including those venues operating a ‘bring your own’ facility.

This phased approach follows feedback during engagement with the retail, hospitality, tourism and events sectors.

The Department will continue to work with Executive Covid Taskforce (ECT) colleagues on ongoing engagement with the key sectors.

Meetings with sector representatives hosted by ECT are ongoing. There have been eight engagement meetings this week, the most recent of which were held this afternoon.

It should be noted that the Covid certification scheme, as agreed by the Executive, is not a vaccine passport scheme. It requires proof of either full vaccination status; or a negative Lateral Flow test result in the previous 48 hours; or proof of recovery from a positive PCR test in the previous 30-180 days.

Covid certification can reduce the number of infected people in high risk settings. Vaccinated people are less likely to become infected and ill than unvaccinated people. There is also evidence, from several studies worldwide, that even when people get infected, if they are vaccinated they are less likely to transmit it to others.

The biggest threat to customer confidence and the economy this winter would be an escalating surge in Covid infections. Vaccination and improved adherence to public health measures can help push down infections. So can Covid certification.

We would encourage everyone to apply for digital Covid certificates on NI Direct:


Notes to editors: 

1. The Department has published a detailed list of frequently answered questions on the Department of Health Website. which will be updated as required

2. Covid certification will be required at the following settings from November 29, with enforcement from December 13:

  • indoor events (where some or all of the audience are not normally seated) with 500 or more attendees;
  • outdoor events (where some or all of the audience are not normally seated) with 4,000 or more attendees;
  • events where more than 10,000 people will be present, regardless of whether or not they will be seated;
  • Nightclubs;
  • Licensed Hospitality premises and unlicensed premises for the duration of the time when they are operating under an occasional licence or when BYO alcohol is consumed
  • Cinemas, theatres and conference halls.

3. Under the regulations, a person may produce evidence of their Covid status through

(a) certification in paper or electronic form that they have 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 lateral flow device test or a negative result of an on-site lateral flow device test, in each case taken within 48 hours before the relevant time;

(c) a valid notification of a positive result of a PCR 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 from vaccination.

This evidence will have to be accompanied by photographic identity. The Covid NI cert app incorporates photo ID.

4. The regulations will also allow for supervised on-site Lateral Flow testing to be provided by the event organiser or business, prior to entry.

5.For media enquiries please contact the DoH Press Office by email pressoffice@health-ni.gov.uk.

6.Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt.

7.The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service For Media Enquiries Only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

Share this page

Back to top