EU COVID digital certificate takes effect | News

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EU COVID digital certificate takes effect | News


An EU-wide COVID certificate went into effect on Thursday, as the EU aims to kick off the summer tourist season by streamlining border crossings.

The certificate is basically a QR code, on a smartphone or on paper, that validates whether a traveler has been vaccinated, recovered from a COVID infection, or has a recent negative test for COVID-19.

How does the certificate work?

According to the EU, the certificate holder should “in principle be exempt from restrictions on free movement” and EU member states should “refrain from imposing additional travel restrictions” on holders “unless ‘they are necessary and proportionate to protect public health’.

National authorities, such as health facilities or testing centers, are responsible for issuing the certificate, according to the EU.

The EU expects all 27 member states to accept the certificate, a process made possible by the integration and networking of public health data.

Four associated European nations (Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein) are also included.

The certificate is already accepted in tourist hot spots in France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Croatia.

EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said he expected all EU member states to be connected to the certificate network from Thursday. Only Ireland, which was hit by a cyberattack on its health service in May, will be delayed.

Delta variant complicates travel

However, the spread of the more infectious delta variant of the coronavirus could hamper summer travel to the EU.

If cases increase, countries can apply an “emergency brake” provision, suspending acceptance of the certificate.

The delta variant is currently spreading in the UK and Portugal, a popular tourist destination.

Last week, Germany announced a ban on inbound travelers from Portugal and Russia, allowing only exemption for German residents as well as a two-week quarantine. Germany also designated Britain as a “viral variant zone” at the end of May.

The UK has also removed Portugal from its “green list” of destinations.

This week, Portugal, Spain and Malta all sharply increased restrictions on travelers from the UK, requiring a full vaccination for entry.

wmr/rs (AFP, Reuters)

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