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EU chiefs plan for Covid vaccine travel passports

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It will include proof of a vaccination, a negative Covid test and medical documents for those who have recovered from the virus in the last 180 days. Eurocrats also hinted they could soon drop a bloc-wide travel ban on Britons because of the UK’s hugely successful jabs rollout. Holiday hotspots such as Greece, Portugal and Spain could use the certificates in a bid to reboot their tourism industries.

Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said they would “help boost tourism and the economies that rely heavily on it”.

A number of countries including Estonia, Romania and Georgia are already waiving quarantine for non-EU arrivals who can prove they are fully vaccinated.

But other countries – such as France, Germany and Belgium – believe the EU pass is premature as they struggle to control Covid.

The Digital Green Certificate will show whether a person has had a vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency.

However, as yet neither the Russian nor the Chinese jab have been given the green light.

The passes will be in English as well as the language of the issuing member states, and in digital or paper formats.

European Commission vice-president Vera Jourova said: “We all want the tourist season to start.

“We can’t afford to lose another season. We’re talking about tens of millions of jobs.”

To secure the agreement of all member states, the commission proposed that the Digital Green Certificates would be delivered to EU residents who could prove they had been vaccinated, and also to those who tested negative or had proof they had recovered from the virus.

Under the plans, UK holidaymakers will be allowed to apply for a European vaccines passport to allow a summer trip to the continent. But in the “medium term”, Brussels said that the bloc would work with foreign governments in order to recognise their own jab certificates.

The Brussels vaccines passport will be free to EU countries.

There is no indication yet that Britons will be charged.

The commission said: “Being vaccinated will not be a pre-condition to travel. All EU citizens have a fundamental right to free movement in the EU and this applies whether they are vaccinated or not. The Digital Green Certificate will make it easier to exercise that right.”

Eurocrats are yet to say when Britons can take advantage of the scheme, but it is expected to be in place before the summer. An official said: “The certificates are meant to support free movement within the EU. We will of course need to think about what to do about external borders, but there are no decisions yet.

“We’ve always focused on facilitating travel within the EU first, before relaxing external restrictions.”

However, the current UK-EU row over vaccines could see millions of families missing out this summer anyway.

Under-50s due to get jabs from the end of March are now likely to see a delay of a month. By the time they get their second dose the summer season could be over.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove is leading a review into plans for the UK to introduce a similar vaccine passport for travel, hospitality and entertainment.

Greece, Spain, Cyprus and Turkey have said they will welcome UK arrivals who have either had the vaccine or have had a recent negative test.

Britain has said holidays will not be allowed until May 17 at the earliest, but rising virus infections in some parts of Europe could derail plans to reopen some routes. Iceland has said that from today, all Britons who have been fully vaccinated can travel there with no testing or quarantine.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng confirmed yesterday that the UK was looking at introducing vaccine passports to reopen the economy.

He said: “I can’t say today this is absolutely going to happen.

“We’re having conversations about how best to take this forward and how best to reassure people and keep our people safe.”

Mr Kwarteng said the priority was to continue with the vaccine rollout so the country can unlock in line with Boris Johnson’s roadmap. He said: “With international travel you’re dealing with other countries and they will have their own input into what policies you have. But we have to be driven by the data, we’ve got to see how the coronavirus develops.

“And once we reopen the economy I’m sure we’ll be looking at other measures to make sure that people are safe and, above all, that the confidence of the public is maintained.”



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