On Tuesday (25 May), EU leaders approved Europe’s COVID-19 certificate to facilitate travel across the bloc. The European Parliament and the Member States reached a provisional agreement on 20 May on COVID-19 certificates designed to enable travel and help boost tourism in Europe. The European Parliament is now ready to give the final green light during its plenary session on 7-10 June. The certificate is expected to be fully operational as of 1 July.
The certificates will be granted to those who have been vaccinated, can show a negative PCR test or proof that they have recovered from the coronavirus.
In case of recovery from the infection, the certificate will be given from the 11th day after the first positive test – people are no longer considered contagious from this point – and will be valid until the 180th day.
A thorny question is whether tourists will need quarantine upon returning to their country. EU countries are expected to retain the right to quarantine travellers returning from countries with high infection rates even if they have a certificate.
The European Commission had proposed that it should be free, but the states opposed this. The point is that to make the pass free of charge, the tampon must also be free of charge (whereas certificates of recovery and vaccination are, of course, free of charge), which the EU Member States felt threatened their freedom of choice in health matters. However, the EU will allocate 100 million to support buffers in some instances, such as cross-border workers and essential services, to alleviate their problems (pending their vaccination).
The EU certificate is primarily intended to facilitate travel. However, some countries want to use it for other domestic activities such as entry to cinemas, theatres, and restaurants. For example, Austria said vaccinated people would receive a national ‘Green Pass’, which will allow them to visit restaurants, hotels, or cultural facilities without the need for a negative test result. Greece said it was ready to grant certificates to its residents as early as 1 June.