The prospect of a vaccine passport is getting closer in Europe. More governments are considering introducing them not only for travelers, but also to help reopen bars, restaurants and concert halls.
European governments are split about whether to endorse a system of vaccine passports. But the travel, tourist and hospitality sectors are desperate to get business going again. They say they can’t afford another lost summer.
Greece has urged the European Commission to shape a common understanding on how a vaccination certificate should be structured. So, all member states accept it. But the EC is struggling. Officials say it becomes even more complicated when trying to fashion a framework for the recognition of certificates outside the EU.
However, Greece’s minister of Tourism, Haris Theocharis, says the country will start using the vaccination certificate for tourists.
The Greek minister says the certificate will have the name of the holder, the date they received the vaccine and its expiration. In the beginning, Greece will be quite conservative regarding the duration of immunity. But he adds that no hotel will refuse guests if someone does not have the vaccine.
A prerequisite for someone to travel to Greece is a negative molecular test or a vaccination certificate. In fact, if someone does not want to show their vaccination certificate, they can just have the negative test.
Not everybody is accepting the vaccination passport
Germany’s ethics council, an independent government-funded body, says not to rush the vaccine passport. It says much is still unknown about whether people can still spread the virus after getting the vaccine.
France’s European affairs minister, Clément Beaune, has firmly objected to vaccine passports. “We are very reluctant,” he says. “It would be shocking, while the campaign is still just starting across Europe, for there to be more important rights for some than for others.”
Denmark’s finance minister, Morten Bødskov, raised the prospect of inoculation passports being introduced by the end of the month. This will make the Scandinavian country the world’s first to do so. Denmark is currently under a strict pandemic lockdown.
Estonia is working with the WHO on a project to create standardized electronic vaccine passport. The country hopes could become the “gold standard” and attract global recognition.
Some international airlines, including the Middle East’s Etihad, which has become the first airline to vaccinate all operational crew, say they already are planning to require passengers to produce pre-travel inoculation documentation. Some airlines are planning to add to their apps a requirement for passengers to add details of their vaccination before being able to book.