Kirkcaldy couple lose holiday cruise as they went to board thanks to routine update of Covid app

An elderly Kirkcaldy couple missed out on their holiday cruise because they couldn’t access the NHS Scotland Covid Status app which was undergoing a ‘routine security update’ on the same day they were about to board.

By Debbie Clarke
Thursday, 5th May 2022, 9:42 am

Malcolm Walker, 75, has expressed his anger at not being able to go on the 11-day cruise visiting Portugal, Spain and Gibraltar last month after being refused permission to board on the day – because he could not access information on the app proving that he and his wife had been triple jabbed.

The app had been working the day before, but just 24 hours later on Easter Monday, when the couple were going on the cruise, NHS Scotland carried out a routine security update on the platform - preventing the Walkers from accessing their essential Covid 19 vaccination status.

And because Mr Walker couldn’t get the app to work on the day the cruise was departing, staff refused to allow the couple to board.

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Malcolm Walker of Kirkcaldy who had issues with the Covid Passport app which left him and his wife unable to depart on a cruise that they had booked to voyage from Southampton on Easter Monday, 2022. Pic: Scott Louden.

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He has demanded an apology and compensation from the Scottish Government as he is out of pocket by around £3800 – the cost of the cruise, insurance, travel to and from Southampton, hotels, and car parking.

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. 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.

Malcolm Walker of Kirkcaldy who had issues with the Covid Passport app which left him and his wife unable to depart on a cruise that they had booked to voyage from Southampton on Easter Monday, 2022. Pic: Scott Louden.

"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 had tried to obtain paper copies of their vaccination status without success.

Malcolm Walker of Kirkcaldy who had issues with the Covid Passport app which left him and his wife unable to depart on a cruise that they had booked to voyage from Southampton on Easter Monday, 2022. Pic: Scott Louden.

He was told they could not give him the information because they did not have his wife’s email address. He got no reply from the helpline number.

In the end he was able to access the app – and assumed it would work for the cruise.

Mr Walker continued: "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.

“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.”