The European Commission expects to finish work soon on a COVID-19 travel certificate. It could allow citizens to travel more easily this summer in the 27-nation bloc, the EC says.
The pass allows those vaccinated, recovered from COVID-19 or with negative test results to cross borders in a union. The restrictions on movement have weighed heavily on the travel and tourism industry for more than a year.
“This is a priority for our citizens and therefore I believe we will deliver (on the travel certificate) before summer,” Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic says. He adds he expects a full roll-out by the summer.
Testing the certificate
A two week pilot project to test the technology began on Monday, the EU Commission says.
But EU governments, the European Parliament and the Commission must agree on the design of the travel certificate. They must also decide whether faster, but less accurate, COVID-19 antigen tests can be part of it.
Sefcovic calls on all sides to work together to complete the legislative and technical work as quickly as possible.
“For the certificate to work, it has to be on smartphones, it has to be interoperable, possible to check it. So it is quite the task to do it at the pan-European level”, Sefcovic says.
Sefcovic says the Commission works closely to inform the United States, the WHO and others about its progress.
EU countries are confident
The vaccination campaign in the EU is speeding up with 200 million jabs and COVID-19 infections rates falling. Europe is starting to reopen cities and beaches, raising hopes for the summer holiday season.
German Europe Minister Michael Roth calls for a swift agreement.
“This is not only important for countries depending on tourism but for all of us. It is … a clear signal for freedom of movement and for mobility in the EU,” Roth says.
Spain is ready in June to use COVID travel certificate that would facilitate travels, Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto said on Thursday, urging the European Union to adopt this measure quickly.
People traveling to Germany from the U.S. do not need to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated against coronavirus, can show they have recovered from COVID-19 or produce a negative test result, the health ministry in Berlin said Thursday.
“Proof of vaccination or of recovery from COVID-19 can replace a negative test certificate and exempt you from quarantine on entry,” if arriving from a country designated a risk area for the virus by Germany’s infectious diseases agency, the Robert Koch Institute, the German Health Ministry said on its website.
A negative antigen or PCR test is still required by airlines before traveling, the health ministry said. Antigen tests must be no more than 48 hours old and PCR tests no more than 72 hours old on arrival in Germany.
The European Commission has said that the French health pass, and other passes developed by member states, can be used for travel within Europe from June 17.
The pass will also be necessary in France from June 9, for attending trade fairs and other events with over 1,000 people and from June 30, for attending standing concerts and festivals.
Italy could be ready to welcome back Americans with limited restrictions this summer.
Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio says that the country’s quarantine requirement might not be in place for eligible travelers arriving from the United States as early as June.
“We’re working on overcoming the ‘mini quarantine’ for anyone from European countries, the U.K. and Israel. If they have a negative swab, vaccination certificate or if they’ve been cured of the past 6 months,” Di Maio says. “Same thing for the United States, where the COVID free flights will start and since June we aim to overcome the ‘mini quarantine’ on arrival.”