The European Union has announced plans for a coronavirus vaccine passport scheme which could also be opened up to non-EU countries.
The announcement was made by European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen last night. The ‘Digital Green Pass’ would enable travel to resume across the continent this summer and would also include travel to and from the UK.
Von der Leyen said the scheme would aim to open up travel within the EU first, which would allow Europeans to book hotels and resorts before other countries. She said: “The Digital Green Pass should facilitate Europeans’ lives. The aim is to gradually enable them to move safely in the EU or abroad for work or tourism.”
Scheme could “scale up globally”
Her chief spokesperson added that the scheme would be run in collaboration with the World Health Organisation and could “scale up globally.’ The vaccine passport scheme could be in place as early as June, in time for the lucrative summer season. The plan is thought to include allowing non-vaccinated tourists to travel, provided they can show proof of a negative test.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said the UK was ‘working with international partners’ to get travel back on the cards. “The EU is part of those discussions, as are several other countries around the world, and it’s obviously important work,” he said. “In a sense, this already exists because you need to have a test before you can travel to the UK and, as far as I understand it from the details set out today, the EU proposal is that certification includes both whether you’ve had the vaccine and also whether you’ve recently had a test for those who can’t get vaccinated yet. Therefore it’s something that we’re working with them and others on and it matters that we get the details of this right for international travel.”
Spain and Greece open talks with British officials
Spain and Greece are reported to have opened talks with British officials to discuss how international tourism could be restarted. A source close to von der Leyen saying UK citizens were ‘always welcome’, adding: ‘As long as you meet all of the conditions and standards.”
Several EU countries reliant on tourism have been calling for the relaxation of travel restrictions to boost their economies. It is understood the rate of Covid infections within the UK will have to continue falling before the UK can join the scheme.
The EU gave the initial green light to the vaccine passports at a virtual summit last week and will continue to discuss the plans in the coming weeks. The UK’s Department for Transport is also in talks with countries across the world in terms of the introduction of vaccine passports.