More chaos for holidaymakers as NHS Covid vaccine pass app crashes
The NHS app has not allowing people to view their Covid vaccine passes for hours as holidaymakers are left unable to board flights.
In yet more travel chaos, the controversial app allowing people to prove their vaccination status is not displaying passes because of ‘high traffic volumes’.
The app went down earlier this morning and the health service said it is still ‘investigating the issue’.
Meanwhile desperate Britons travelling abroad today claim they have been forced to miss their flights, while others are left fretting about their plans.
Minister rolled out the UK’s new simplified travel system out on Monday last week, replacing the traffic light rules with a single ‘red list’ and a ‘rest of the world’ category.
Fully-vaccinated travellers returning from a ‘rest of the world’ country do not have to take a pre-departure test and are exempt from quarantine but they do have to take a day two test.
But people uploading their passenger locator forms for flights today and tomorrow are unable to attach their passes because of the issue.
The app problems are the latest in a line of issues faced by travellers this summer, with long queues of up to four hours building up at Heathrow’s arrivals last week because of e-gates crashing at the airport.
The NHS app is not allowing people to view their Covid vaccine passes as holidaymakers are left unable to board flights
HOW CAN YOU PROVE YOUR VACCINATION STATUS IF THE NHS APP IS DOWN?
The NHS app can hold your Covid vaccination record if you choose and will generate a pass for travel abroad with a QR code when requested.
When the app experiences problems like this, it is not possible to access this QR code, which is needed to prove vaccination status on passenger locator forms and to board planes.
Travellers can download a PDF version of the code before their flight or ask their GP for a letter that can be used in its place.
But neither of these options are available to people stuck at airports today.
The app also shows the date of when people received their vaccines even without the pass.
But this cannot be used in place of the QR code on passenger locator forms or at airport gates.
Users trying to log on to the app to show their vaccine pass today are met with a message telling them to ‘try again later’.
It says: ‘The NHS Covid-19 Status service is experiencing very high traffic volumes.
‘We are currently limit access to the service to prevent it from becoming overloaded.
‘Please try again later.’
Health bosses have not yet reported what caused the app to be unable to process traffic levels or given an indication of when the issue will be resolved.
NHS Digital said: ‘There are currently issues with accessing the Covid Pass on the NHS App and website.
‘We are investigating the issue and will update as soon as we can.’
Britons took to social media to report the problem, with hundreds saying they were worried about being able to travel.
Chuck Adolphy, who was planning to fly to Slovenia today, wrote: ‘Cheers guys missed my flight with it.’
And Caroline Frost said: ‘Waiting to fly at Heathrow and the NHS app has crashed with all the a Covid vaccination proof available.
‘Currently not allowed to fly. Going to be an interesting afternoon at Heathrow.’
Others say they are unable to enter countries at arrivals in other countries abroad because of the issue.
Callum Mellia said: ‘Cheers guys, can’t do anything in Naples right now such as tours, museums, go for a p**s because the app is broken.’
Guy Holloway, who is moving to Barcelona tomorrow, said: ‘The NHS App won’t give me my Covid pass and I can’t therefore upload proof of vaccination to booking form.
‘Keeps saying “unexpected error” both in app and online. What can I do? Am travelling on Friday!’
Passengers queue for the Arrival Hall at London Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5, due to a problem with the self-service passport gates
Passengers posted images of massive queues on Twitter this morning, with one traveller estimated than more than a thousand people waited at immigration while another reported an expected waiting time of anywhere between two and four hours
TRAVEL RULES MEAN UK IS ONE OF WORLD’S ‘WORST-PERFORMING COUNTRIES’ FOR TOURISM
Coronavirus travel restrictions are affecting UK tourism more than most countries across the world, new figures show.
Spending by international visitors to the UK is forecast to plunge by nearly 50 per cent this year compared with 2020, the London-based World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) said.
This is making the UK ‘one of the worst performing countries in the world’, according to the organisation.
The WTTC noted that the travel and tourism sector’s contribution to the UK’s economy may rise year on year by about 32 per cent in 2021, which is broadly in line with the rest of the global average.
But that partial recovery is being driven by the boom in domestic holidays, which is not enough to achieve a full economic recovery and save millions of jobs under threat, the WTTC said.
An estimated 307,000 jobs in the sector were lost last year due to the pandemic.
The WTTC said the UK’s ‘destructive’ testing and quarantine policies mean it is lagging behind other countries such as the US and China, which are ‘set to see a rise in inbound international travel spending this year’.
Julia Simpson, WTTC president and chief executive, said: ‘WTTC research shows that while the global travel and tourism sector is beginning to recover, the UK continues to suffer big losses due to continuing travel restrictions that are tougher than the rest of Europe.
‘Despite government announcements, the UK still has a red list, costly PCR tests and a requirement for day-two tests which simply put people off travel.
‘Just as the world opens up, the UK has more requirements for the double vaccinated than our neighbours.’
And Simon Hutton wrote: ‘Am I the only one having issues getting a Covid pass on the NHS app or website?
‘Try to get one and it just says there are four ways to get a pass but no option to actually generate one.’
Worried travellers have been reassured they can bring ‘proof of vaccination status’ to their flight even without the app.
British Airways said: ‘Please contact the NHS to see if they can remedy the issue with their app. If not be reassured you can bring proof of vaccination status when you check in.’
Travellers can download their pass or ask for a physical copy from their GP before travel to prove their vaccination status.
But it is not clear how travellers already at airports can continue with their plans until the app returns.
It comes after Heathrow’s e-gates crashed again last week leaving travellers stuck on planes for hours and waiting in long queues at arrivals.
One traveller estimated that more than a thousand people were waiting at immigration while another reported an expected waiting time of anywhere between two and four hours.
A Heathrow spokesman told MailOnline that the e-gates broke down due to a ‘national systems-wide issue’ but that they are all back up and running. The airport even appeared to be blaming Border Force, which manages e-gates at ports across the country, for the chaos.
Self-service passport gates at several major UK airports including Heathrow, Manchester, Stansted and Edinburgh all failed just over a fortnight ago, causing delays of several hours at arrivals. At the time, officials said the outage was caused by a ‘systems failure’.
A Home Office spokesman refused to explain why the e-gates keep crashing when approached by MailOnline for further information, saying it does not comment on ‘operational matters’.
They said in a statement: ‘This morning a technical issue affected eGates at a number of ports. The issue was quickly identified and has now been resolved.
‘We have been working hard to minimise disruption and continue to monitor the situation closely. We apologise to all passengers for the inconvenience caused.’
Tory MPs have demanded answers from the head of Border Force over the Heathrow queuing scandal seen in recent months but Paul Lincoln, the agency’s director general, has not commented publicly on the issue in recent weeks.
Travel industry experts have repeatedly warned the chaotic scenes seen in the wake of the country reopening are blighting the UK’s global reputation, while running the risk of a spike in Covid cases – further jeopardising the already crisis-hit tourism sector.