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EU to roll out digital vaccine passports to restart travel within the bloc

Leaders of the European Union have agreed that a “digital vaccination certificate” is necessary to allow travel within the bloc.

“Everyone agreed that we need a digital vaccination certificate,” Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, said after the first-day virtual summit. “This will make travelling within the EU possible and could pave the way for further travel from third countries into the EU.”

Merkel added that the European Commission could take three months to put in place the technology required. European leaders are currently participating in a two-day virtual conference; other topics discussed include the speed of the vaccination rollout in the EU, The Times reported.

The discussions on a certification come as the UK government conducts a review in the potential role of “Covid-state certification” in helping venues reopen safely as the country begins to lift its third nationwide lockdown.

“[The review] will include assessing to what extent certification would be effective in reducing risk, and the potential uses to enable access to settings or a relaxation of COVID-Secure mitigations,” according to the government’s 60-page roadmap document.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the House of Commons on 22 February that the government would be “mindful of the many concerns surrounding exclusion, discriminatory and privacy”.

READUK to review Covid certificates in a move towards reopening venues

Greece is already providing its citizens with a certification to prove that they have been vaccinated, and the country has said it will allow vaccinated tourists to visit the country from May, according to reports.

There may yet be some roadmaps for the EU’s certification: “First, it must actually be clearly resolved that vaccinated people are no longer infectious,” the German chancellor told German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung according to Sky News.

“As long as the number of those who have been vaccinated is still so much smaller than the number who are waiting for vaccination, the state should not treat the two groups differently.”

French president Emmanuel Macron announced that the government is considering a “health pass”, which would either certify that a person had had a vaccine or that they have recently tested negative for Covid, according to Le Monde, to allow the country to reopen museums and restaurants.

READGlobal travel uncertain, UK’s transport secretary warns, as EU discusses vaccine passports

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email Bérengère Sim

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