Spain calls for vaccination certificate scheme for travellers

Spain is calling on EU nations to support a scheme that would see travellers required to show Covid-19 vaccination certificates.

Spain calls for vaccination certificate scheme for travellers
Photo: AFP

Spain is pushing in the European Union and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development for the creation of a COVID-19 vaccine certification that would ease travel, Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez confirmed on Thursday.

“Vaccine certification is something we are going towards inevitably,” she said during an interview on RNE national radio.  “It will be a very important element to guarantee a safe return to mobility.”

EU leaders will on Thursday (21 January) discuss via videoconference the introduction of vaccination certificates for travellers who have already received their jabs.

Introducing vaccination certificates could mean lifting border closures and easing freedom of movement within the EU.

Earlier in the week Reyes Maroto, Spain’s Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism, expressed support for EU recognised vaccination certificates or “immunity passports” arguing that it could help kickstart the stricken travel industry.

“Reaching immunity is a key milestone to generate confidence to travel,” she said pointing out that a vaccine certificate could put an end to the need for current restrictions such as quarantine and compulsory PCR tests.

“We can agree in principle that we should work on common standards, and interoperability. We want to avoid things being blocked because vaccines are not recognised in one particular country,” said a senior EU official quoted in the EU Observer.

The videoconference summit will discuss coordinating on the matter to avoid member states not recognising each others' vaccinate documentations, something which has been seen with Covid-19 tests for travellers which resulted in some EU countries not recognising each others' testing.  

However, the World Health Organization (WHO) does not support immunity passports as being a way to restart travel, due to it still being unclear if vaccines can prevent transmission.

They also warned that the current vaccine rollout is not yet at a level across Europe which would allow the new passports.

The Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization Committee said: “Being vaccinated should not exempt international travellers from complying with other travel risk reduction measures.”

Countries which are not in agreement with the vaccine passports include Romania and France, both of which fear it would cause a divide in countries.



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US to end Covid testing requirement for travellers from Europe

Authorities in the USA have announced the end of the Covid-testing requirement for arrivals from Europe, meaning that fully vaccinated people will soon be able to travel between Europe and the US without needing pre-travel tests.

US to end Covid testing requirement for travellers from Europe

Most of Europe had dropped the testing requirement for fully-vaccinated arrivals in the spring, but the US has maintained the requirement to show proof of a negative test for all arrivals.

However on Friday, the Biden administration announced that it would not renew the testing requirement.

The new rule is expected to come into effect at 12.01 Sunday EDT, until then passengers will still need to show a negative Covid test before they can board a plane to the US.

The US currently bars unvaccinated travellers from entry – although this does not apply to US citizens, US residents or those travelling for essential reasons – there was no announcement on lifting this restriction. 

The CDC said that testing requirements could be reinstated if new variants of Covid emerge, and added that it continues to recommend pre-travel testing. 

Covid travel rules vary between individual countries in Europe, but most countries now only require pre-departure tests for unvaccinated travellers. Check the rules of the country you are travelling to for full details. 

To be counted as ‘fully vaccinated’ travellers must have received both doses of an EMA-approved vaccine – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca (or a single dose of Janssen).

If their vaccination was more than nine months ago, they need a booster shot in order to be considered fully vaccinated – people who have had a booster do not need a second, even if their booster shot was more than nine months ago.