COVID-19: Proposed EU vaccine passport scheme raises hopes of Britons having summer holidays in Europe

March 02, 2021

EU proposals for a vaccine passport could kick start tourism across the bloc from as early as June - raising hopes lockdown-weary Britons could enjoy a summer holiday on the continent.

The European Commission is suggesting a "digital green pass" that would provide proof a person has been vaccinated against coronavirus, as well as test results for those not yet inoculated.

Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said the pass "should facilitate Europeans' lives".

She said: "The aim is to gradually enable them to move safely in the European Union or abroad - for work or tourism."

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The proposed scheme raises the prospect that unvaccinated adults and children could still travel overseas if they have had a recent negative COVID-19 test.

The scheme would at first be for Europeans to travel more freely over the summer - but the executive also plans to co-operate with international organisations to ensure its system works beyond the EU.

And a senior EU source told The Sun that Britons are "always welcome" in Europe "as long as you meet all of the conditions and standards".

England's deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said on Monday there was still "great uncertainty" around holidays on the continent - partly because the EU's vaccination programmes were behind the UK's.

Compared to the UK, the bloc's rollout of coronavirus vaccines has been slow.

It comes as a UK taskforce planning the resumption of foreign holidays has met for the first time.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps chaired the meeting of the government's global travel taskforce, with travel firms, transport operators and industry bodies joining the virtual session.

Boris Johnson announced last month that foreign leisure travel for people in England could be allowed from 17 May.

But this was dependant on several factors, such as vaccine rollouts and the prevalence of COVID variants.

The draft EU legislation for the "green digital pass" is expected to be published on 17 March, and the scheme itself may begin as soon as June.

The UK will discuss with the EU the bloc's proposals to create a vaccine passport in the hope of reviving international travel for the summer holidays.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Monday that Britain was working with the EU and countries around the world on the issue.

He said: "As I understand it, the EU proposal is that certification includes both whether you've had the vaccine and also whether you've recently had a test for those who can't get vaccinated yet, which is obviously particularly important.

"Therefore it's something that we're working with them and others on and it matters that we get the details of this right for international travel."

The UK government has said that once more is known about the impact of vaccines it could introduce a system to allow people who have had a jab to travel more freely internationally.

Mr Hancock said on Tuesday that people will need to be provided with the ability to certify they have had a coronavirus vaccination.

"It is clear" that individuals will need a way of showing they have had a jab, but those who cannot be inoculated for medical reasons will "absolutely" be taken "into consideration", he told MPs.

The government is facing mounting pressure from Conservative MPs to avoid introducing COVID passports for people to travel domestically around the UK.

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Meanwhile, a new survey suggests more than three out of five people would support flights which only accepted vaccinated passengers.

61% of 2,105 UK adults, polled by the travel think tank Thrive, said they would back such a move.

The boss of Australian airline Qantas has said passengers will in future need to prove they have received a coronavirus jab before they can board its international flights.

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