Covid: EU prompted to endorse ‘Vaccine Passports’

Greece and Austria invite EU states to sanction ‘vaccine passports’ to help recover the tourism industry hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

Proposed during an online conference between EU leaders, this ‘passport’ would allow tourists inoculated against Covid-19 to have unrestricted access to the EU countries.

The proposition was, however, opposed by several members of the bloc. France and Germany expressed concerns about the lack of data evidencing covid vaccines’ ability to curb transmission.

Illustration of covid vaccine with travel items

Are vaccine passports discriminatory?

Another concern expressed was the discriminatory nature of such a ‘passport’. While a vaccinated minority travelled unhindered, it would be unfair to those unable to procure the vaccine through no fault of their, i.e., young people low on the government priority lists.

Akis Skertsos, Greek Deputy Prime Minister, has said, ‘We don’t think that this is discriminatory at all. Restrictions are already in place and will accompany us throughout 2021…

‘Those who have not been vaccinated will still be able to travel. They will still be able to visit Greece if they want to, but they will do it in a slower process.’

Further scrutiny revealed worries of a swift spread of mutated variants of the virus such as the English, Brazillian and South African strains.

Countries that have adopted vaccination passports

Regardless, Greece and Israel already have a similar system in place in the form of digital vaccination certificates. Sweden and Denmark are considering the adoption of similar measures.

Cyprus and Greece have also agreed to welcome Israeli tourists with ‘green digital certificates’ proving that they have either been inoculated against Covid-19 or have recovered from a previous infection.

Harry Theocharis, Greek Tourism Minister, has extended a similar proposal to the UK. However, the UK Government has neither authorized any ‘vaccine passports’ nor has it cleared foreign holidays.

Unilateral border restrictions

As many EU countries struggle with a third coronavirus wave, there are feelings of unease over recent, unilateral border regulations.

The European Commission has objected to Germany’s imposition of police checks at Czech and Austrian borders.

On the topic of ‘vaccine passports’, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that it might take months to set up, but ‘digital vaccine certificates’ could become a necessity in the future.

Concerns regarding the relaxed distribution of the coronavirus vaccines were raised during the online conference.

Although the European Commission has been widely criticized for its vaccine acquisition plan, the Commission has expressed its intention to vaccinate at least 70% of adults within the bloc by September.

At present, less than 10% have been vaccinated.










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