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How the rules of the EU Covid certificate for travel will change from February

As infection rates surge in parts of Europe, the EU will limit the validity of its flagship Covid-19 certificate to nine months. The pass is designed to allow for restriction free travel within the bloc but certain countries are stepping up restrictions.

A customer shows her Green Pass on a mobile phone in a central Rome bar
How the EU could change its Covid certificate for travel Photo: Andreas SOLARO / AFP

Since it was rolled out in July the EU’s Covid certificate has allowed for those vaccinated, recovered or who tested negative for Covid, to travel freely within the bloc without the need for subsequent tests or quarantine.

However with cases now surging across the EU and the consensus between member states fractured as certain countries impose new travel restrictions, the European Commission has adopted new rules on the validity of the Covid-19 travel pass.

The Commission on Tuesday adopted rules that will make the certificate valid for just nine months after the holder became fully vaccinated, Reuters reported.

That means after two shots of a two dose vaccine such as Pfizer or Moderna or after one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vacccine.

After a booster shot, the validity of the COVID-19 pass will be extended further without a set limit.

The new rule could still be blocked by a qualified majority of EU governments or a simple majority of European Parliament members, but Reuters reports that officials have said there is sufficient support for it.

If passed, the new rules will be binding on the 27 EU states from Feb 1st.

 
Once the rule is in place in February, EU member states will be obliged to let fully vaccinated travellers with a valid pass enter the country. However individual countries could still impose further requirements, such as negative tests or quarantines, as long as they are proportionate.

Seven EU states are currently requiring fully vaccinated travellers from other EU countries to also show a negative test upon arrival, measures some see as damaging the credibility of the EU pass, Reuters reports.

Those countries are Italy, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Latvia, Cyprus and Austria.

Under the harmonised system the Covid certificates, which can be on paper or stored electronically on smartphones –  carry proof via a QR code that the holder has either:
  • been vaccinated against Covid-19
  • recently recovered from the virus (meaning the holder has antibodies in their system)
  • recently tested negative for Covid 
But a time limit for their use was never set and with studies revealing that immunity via vaccination wears off after six or seven months there has been increased pressure to add a duration length to the certificates as well as include mention of booster shots.
 
Given that borders are national competence not an EU one member states have always been allowed to introduce their own Covid entry rules and restrictions.
 
Separate to the harmonised EU travel agreement many member states such as France and Italy have made vaccine passes compulsory for entry into leisure venues such as bars and restaurants. 

Member comments

  1. Please change the picture – the lady holding out the phone has her crappy medical mask completely off her nose – not a good advert for adherence to the rules!

      1. It’s a matter of degree – without any masks, things would be much worse – but see my answer above regarding still allowing these masks vs only FFP2 masks

        1. Richard – out if interest, what triggers you pointing out to change the picture or to recommend to wear a FFP2 mask? Does it make you feel uncomfortable? Do you expect others to compensate for your fears? You might have an underlying condition you want to bring up with a healthcare professional. Take care and stay safe!

          1. Aah! I see that you have seen through my disguise. I am indeed a deranged ex-pat out to foment contestation, and eventually, with my long haired white cat at my side, seek to rule the world! Muhahaha
            Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and yours!

  2. The masks are not 100% in preventing infection, of course, but they do significantly reduce transmission. Really unhelpful to suggest otherwise.

    1. My main point was that she is wearing the mask incorrectly, so it is not effective. As to “crappy”, the FFP2 mask should have been made the only acceptable mask as soon as supplies were sufficient, yet many people wear these much inferior masks because they are still allowed to, even though FFP2 masks are vastly more effective.

  3. You are right Johanna, Masks don’t work. It’s has been proven, yet those in power refuse to look at the real science.

    1. Glenn, all those surgeons wearing masks during operations must be fashion statements, can’t possibly be because they work.

      1. The surgical masks are to prevent spittle from entering an open wound. That’s all. Now when doctors are working with dangerous infectious diseases they wear much more extensive protective gear.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Spain lifts Covid-19 checks at French border

Spanish authorities will no longer request proof of Covid-19 vaccination, testing or recovery from people who enter Spain by land from France.

Spain lifts Covid-19 checks at French border

The news was announced in Spain’s official BOE state bulletin on Wednesday, and will come into effect the following day, on Thursday May 19th 2022.

For the past 26 months, Spanish legislation has allowed border officials to be able to require a Covid health pass from anyone over the age of 12 entering Spain from France by car, train or on foot. 

In reality, Spain’s borders with France haven’t always been manned and Covid-19 health checks haven’t been a constant throughout the pandemic as in the case of air travel, for which Spain still has Covid-19 restrictions for travellers arriving from France. 

READ ALSO: When will Spain get rid of all its Covid-19 travel restrictions?

At times when infection rates were high, border checks on both sides were tightened, or as happened during the summer of 2021, there were tough health checks to enter France but not to enter Spain.

According to Spain’s Health Ministry, the decision to scrap health checks at Spain’s land border with France has been reached given the high levels of vaccination and immunisation achieved in both countries, which has led to a significant decrease in serious Covid-19 cases and deaths.

However, the French Embassy in Spain states that all unvaccinated arrivals in France, including those arriving by land, still have to be able to show proof of a negative PCR or antigen test before crossing over into France from Spain, with some exceptions for cross-border workers and urgent matters.

According to Spain’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, there are no Covid certificate requirements at the land border between Spain and Portugal

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