Man, 75, refused entry on cruise after NHS Covid app stopped working
Sturgeon’s Covid app sabotaged my dream holiday: Pensioner is turned away from £4,000 cruise with wife after Scottish NHS Covid app update meant he couldn’t prove he was triple jabbed
- Malcolm Walker, 75 and his wife denied boarding on cruise ship in Southampton
- NHS Covid status app updated and was no longer compatible with their phones
- Walker is demanding an apology from the Scottish government over the blunder
A pensioner is almost £4,000 out of pocket after being refused boarding on an 11-day cruise because his NHS Scotland Covid app suddenly stopped working.
Malcolm Walker, 75, from Fife, Scotland, had travelled down to Southampton with his wife on April 18, hoping to enjoy their much-anticipated trip to Portugal, Spain and Gibraltar.
But the furious Scotsman was left ‘astounded’ when the NHS Scotland Covid Status app underwent a ‘security update’ without warning, meaning he could not access his vaccination status proving him and his wife had been triple jabbed.
He claims staff refused to let them board and said he is around £3,800 out of pocket for the cruise, insurance, travel to and from Southampton, hotels, and parking.
Mr Walker, who is demanding an apology from the Scottish government, said the app had been working the day before they were due to set sail.
He said: ‘Two days before and the day before I checked the Covid 19 status on my mobile phone and all was well until we reached Southampton.
Malcolm Walker (pictured with the NHS App on his phone), 75, from Fife, Scotland, had travelled down to Southampton with his wife on April 18, hoping to enjoy their much-anticipated trip to Portugal, Spain and Gibraltar
Mr Walker claims staff refused to let them board and said he is around £3,800 out of pocket for the cruise, insurance, travel to and from Southampton, hotels, and parking. (Pictured: The Wonder of the Seas docked in Malaga, Spain)
‘The verification level on my iPhone 6 was level 11.4, my wife’s 12.1.
‘On the day of departure, NHS Scotland increased the verification level to 13.1.
‘As our phones are older with the information permanently stored, we had no need for the user name or password, and there was no prior warning – we were completely unaware of anything amiss.
‘Preparing to board, we were astounded to find that we could not access the app, so we were denied access to the cruise.’
Earlier in the year Mr Walker said he had tried to obtain paper copies of their vaccination status without success.
He said he was told they could not give him the information because they did not have his wife’s email address.
Malcolm said he got no reply from the helpline number, but was able to access the app – and assumed it would work for the cruise.
He added: ‘This affair has cost me a lot of money.
‘We have been in touch with our insurance company, but feel it is unfair for them to recompense us when the fault lies with the Scotland’s NHS department and government… I would like an apology.
‘This happened because they did not inform people of their intentions, but upgraded, and altered the app without thought or consideration as to the possible consequences.’
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: ‘We are sorry to hear of Mr Walker’s experience.
‘In common with all apps available on the iStore, the NHS Scotland Covid Status App is only available on phones which receive vital security updates and works on all Apple phones released since 2015, providing the user has updated the operating system to at least iOS 13.1.
Mr Walker (pictured) was left ‘astounded’ when the NHS Scotland Covid Status app underwent a ‘security update’ without warning, meaning he could not access his vaccination status proving him and his wife had been triple jabbed
‘A recent routine security update required by Apple removed unsupported operating systems from being able to support the app.
‘Anyone unable to use the app can get a paper copy of their vaccination certificate online or via the Covid Status Helpline on 0808 196 8565.’
Mr Walker would have been required to prove he was fully vaccinated due to Portugal and Spain’s Covid travel restrictions.
The Spanish tourist board in London spectacularly U-turned on April 7 after it had announced a day earlier that the country would open up to unvaccinated British holidaymakers.
The board had declared Spain would open up to all UK travellers – including the unvaccinated – with no restrictions, provided passengers could provide a negative pre-departure test.
But in a matter of hours the decision was reversed, with the board’s deputy director labelling the erroneous announcement a ‘miscommunication’ which arose from a ‘misinterpretation of the rules’ laid out in a Spanish health department bulletin.
Much to the frustration of thousands of eager holidaymakers, UK travellers aged 12 and above are still required to show proof of being fully vaccinated – or a certificate of recovery obtained than 180 days from the date of travel – to get into the country.
The only exception to this rule applies to those aged 12-17, who are able to get into the country unvaccinated provided they have proof of a negative, approved PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival.
The Spanish tourist board in London spectacularly U-turned on its announcement last month that the country will open up to unvaccinated British holidaymakers
Much to the frustration of thousands of eager holidaymakers, UK travellers aged 12 and above are still required to show proof of being fully vaccinated – or a certificate of recovery obtained than 180 days from the date of travel – to get into the country
Deputy director of the Spanish tourist board in the UK Pedro Medina said in a statement: ‘We apologise unreservedly for the miscommunication earlier today which was due to a misunderstanding of the new entry requirements.’
The tourist office also said: ‘If more than 270 days have passed since the final dose, certification of a booster vaccination is also required, except for teenagers aged 12 to 17 inclusive.’
Furthermore, travellers looking to gain entry to Spain via a certificate of recovery must have a document obtained from ‘the official authorities’ in connection with a test ‘carried out by qualified personnel’.
This means that a self-testing kit is not valid, and travellers aiming to show proof of recovery must have a certificate from a test administered by an EU-approved list of providers.
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