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EU’s digital COVID-19 ‘vaccine passport’ system goes live

On Thursday (July 1), the European Union (EU) launched its COVID-19 technical certification system, a kind of “vaccine passport”, allowing border crossings between 27 countries members of this block smoothly.

(Artwork: Nattakorn_Maneerat/Shutterstock)

Called the EU’s digital COVID certificate, it will show whether a traveler has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, has received a negative test result recently , or have immunity due to recovery from recent infection. This certificate comes in the form of a QR code that can be displayed on an electronic device such as a smartphone or printed.

The European Commission (EC), the EU’s executive body, said in a statement that the bloc’s 21 member states had begun issuing the certificate ahead of the July 1 deadline, while five The remaining EU will start using the system today. For countries that need this extra time, certification is conducted over a period of six weeks.

In this regard, EC President Ursula von der Leyen also said: “In March, we pledged to have an EU-wide system to facilitate free and safe movement within the EU before the period. vacation. We can now confirm that the EU COVID digital certification system is up and running.”

Under the rules, EU member states will still be able to apply the “emergency brake” and re-impose travel restrictions on people who have been vaccinated or have recovered from infection if The epidemiological situation has become much worse, for example banning travelers from an area with a spike in more contagious COVID-19 strains. COVID-19 is a disease caused by the corona virus.

Under the new rules, [EU] Member States must refrain from imposing further travel restrictions on holders of an EU COVID Digital Certificate, unless they are necessary and proportionate to protect public health.”

14 days after receiving the last dose of the EU-approved COVID-19 vaccine, fully vaccinated persons with this digital certificate will be exempt from testing or travel-related isolation . The same exemption will also apply to people previously infected who have recovered and who have received a single dose of the vaccine. EU member states also have the option of lifting travel-related testing or isolation restrictions for those who have received the first dose of the two-dose vaccine.

Those who have recovered from COVID-19 and hold an EU COVID digital certificate will be exempt from testing and travel-related isolation for the first 180 days after testing positive by PCR.

Those who test negative on the digital certificate will be exempted from the quarantine requirements, unless they come from areas hard hit by the virus, which are covered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Epidemic prevention is designated as “dark red”. EU member states have agreed on a standard validity period for PCR tests of 72 hours, and 48 hours for rapid antigen tests if individually approved by countries.

Although some EU countries had already commissioned a trial of the new system before July 1, it is not clear whether police or border control officers will be provided with the equipment and manpower to screen travelers. are not.

Earlier this week, Europe’s air travel industry complained that plans to roll out certificates were still “fragile”, and warned of long queues for travelers unless airlines better coordinated national implementation.

In a joint statement, organizations representing Europe’s largest airlines and airports warned: “Verification of the certificate will sabotage an enjoyable summer trip for EU passengers. As passenger traffic increases in the coming weeks, the risk of chaos at European airports is real.”

“If [EU] member states do not [cooperate] to address [this issue], then double checks and the failure of airlines to provide adequate identification tools will result in failure,” the statement said. This will result in unnecessarily long queues at the airport and longer processing times.”

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