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VACCINATION

‘Green pass’: European Commission to propose EU-wide vaccine passports for summer

Europeans may be allowed to travel more freely this summer with a new digital vaccination passport in a plan set to be laid out by the European Commission.

'Green pass': European Commission to propose EU-wide vaccine passports for summer
An Israeli woman shows her "green pass" (proof of being fully vaccinated against the coronavirus) before entering the Green Pass concert for vaccinated seniors. Photo: Jack Guez/AFP

Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen announced the plan for a “digital green pass” in a speech to German lawmakers on Monday and then added some details on Twitter.

The “digital green pass”  would provide proof that a person has received the vaccination as well as test results for anyone who has not yet been vaccinated. It would also include information on recovery for anyone who has previously contracted Covid-19.

“The aim is to gradually enable them to move safely in the European Union or abroad – for work or tourism,” von der Leyen tweeted.

 

The Commission will present the legislative proposal this month. Von der Leyen said, it will “respect data protection, security and privacy.”

The news could provide a significant boost to Europe’s tourism industries ahead of the summer. 

Leaders of the EU27 met last week to discuss a joined-up approach but no united plan was announced.

Spain and several other southern countries have repeatedly requested that the Commission introduce a certificate. Greece had already announced it would create its own vaccine passport system, agreeing a digital “Green Pass” with Israel and entering talks with the UK.

An independently reviewed, real-world study of the Pfizer/ BioNTech vaccine in Israel found it had cut transmission in symptomatic cases by 94%, according to data published in the well-regarded New England Journal of Medicine.

However, last week, Angela Merkel told German newspaper Allgemeine Zeitung: “First, it must actually be clearly resolved that vaccinated people are no longer infectious.”

“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.”

President Macron also raised concerns about the fairness of vaccine passports on young people at the EU27 virtual meeting. 

However, he is preparing a “pass sanitaire” or ‘health pass” this week to allow French residents to visit tourist attractions and hospitality venues when they reopen. Residents would register negative PCR tests or vaccination certificates on an application.

In the UK, Downing Street confirmed that UK officials will speak to their EU counterparts after Brussels unveiled plans for the passport, Politics Home reported.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said: “You can expect [the Department for Transport] will work [with], and do speak to countries across the world in terms of how they may look to introduce passports.”

 

Member comments

  1. What about the French people from overseas, can they have a green pass if they have their two doses of vaccination? We are tired of bei g treated like second class citizens..

  2. https://pace.coe.int/pdf/2e0ee40b5d6c4e2e5df5467478961f7561e651733326667a8259ffe25682ae848428feba12/resolution%202361.pdf

    Resolution 2361 (2021)1 European Commission
    Provisional version
    Covid-19 vaccines: ethical, legal and practical considerations

    7.3. with respect to ensuring high vaccine uptake:
    7.3.1. ensure that citizens are informed that the vaccination is NOT mandatory and that no one is politically, socially, or otherwise pressured to get themselves vaccinated, if they do not wish to do so themselves;
    7.3.2. ensure that no one is discriminated against for not having been vaccinated, due to possible health risks or not wanting to be vaccinated;

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COVID-19

Health experts advise end of masks on public transport in Spain

Spanish health experts have advised the government that the use of masks should no longer be obligatory on public transport, but no concrete date has yet been set.

Health experts advise end of masks on public transport in Spain

Health experts who advise the Spanish Ministry of Health have said that masks should no longer be mandatory on public transport, but with the caveat that the government should first wait and observe the epidemiological situation in China, which has experienced a surge in case numbers since it abandoned its strict ‘Zero Covid’ strategy at the end of 2022, following widespread civil unrest.

The use of masks on public transport has now been the norm in Spain for almost three years, since the start of the pandemic. 

Speaking to Ser Canarias, Darias said: “We are getting closer and closer [to the end of having to wear a mask], but we will have to see how things evolve in order to make that decision; obviously the epidemiological situation is getting better and better, but we have to see how the issue of China evolves”. 

Reports in the Spanish press suggest some kind of agreement was made during a meeting between the government and the experts in December that masks would no longer be compulsory after assessing the situation in China, however, there is still no fixed date.

Back in October 2022, Spain’s ‘Emergency Unit’ suggested that mask rules would not be reviewed until March 2023 at the earliest, but more recently it said that it does not seem necessary to wait for March to remove the mask rule. 

According to recent Ministry of Health figures, just 2.79 percent of hospital beds in Spain are taken up by Covid-19 patients.

READ ALSO: Face masks to remain mandatory on public transport in Spain until March 2023

The use of masks indoors in Spain ceased to be mandatory on April 20th, 2022, after almost two years, however, they have remained mandatory in hospitals, pharmacies and, crucially, also on buses, metro, trains, planes and taxis.

While the mask rules have been strictly enforced in some places in Spain such as Seville and Valencia, in other cities such as Barcelona, many people refuse to wear them, despite the regulations still officially being in place. 

READ ALSO: Spain now requires Covid certificates for arrivals from China

In China, figures suggest that almost 60,000 people have died as a result of Covid-19 in a single month amid the spike in cases following the end of the country’s draconian restrictions. In response, Spain reintroduced health control checks for travellers arriving from China. 

It seems that Darias and the Spanish government are waiting to see how the situation plays out in China first, but all the indications and expert advice seems to suggest that masks will no longer be mandatory in public transport sometime very soon. 

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