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EU urged to adopt 'vaccine passports'

February 26, 2021 10:38 am

Greece and Austria are urging other EU states to adopt coronavirus vaccination “passports” which could help revive Europe’s stricken tourist industry.

The idea of such a document, likely to be a certificate, would be to permit those who have been vaccinated to travel freely within the EU.

The proposal was put forward during a virtual discussion between EU leaders.

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But a vaccine passport faces opposition from some of the bloc’s 27 member states.

France and Germany say such documents could be premature because data on the efficacy of vaccines in preventing a person from carrying or passing on the virus is incomplete.

There are also concerns that enabling a vaccinated minority to enjoy foreign travel while others, such as young people who are not seen as a priority for inoculation, continue to face restrictions would be discriminatory.

A further complication is the rapid spread of more contagious Covid variants – the English, South African and Brazilian forms – and the possibility of future mutations. So it is more likely that people will need booster jabs to remain protected.

Greece – as well as Israel – already has digital vaccination certificates, and others such as Denmark and Sweden have talked about developing them.

Greek Deputy Prime Minister Akis Skertsos told the BBC that a common digital certificate “is not discriminatory at all”. He argued that non-vaccinated tourists could also visit Greece this summer, but the procedure for them would be slower – they would have to be tested and might have to self-isolate on arrival.

Greece and Cyprus have agreed to admit Covid-negative Israeli tourists this summer – those who can prove their status with the Israeli “green” digital certificate.

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