EU plan for Digital Green Certificates could reopen borders for UK visitors

Neil Lancefield, PA Transport Correspondent
·3-min read

The European Union has set out its plan for coronavirus vaccine certificates that could be used by UK holidaymakers this summer.

Digital Green Certificates will be accepted as “proof” that a person has had a Covid-19 jab, received a negative test result or recovered from the virus, according to the European Commission’s proposal.

They will “facilitate safe and free movement” within the EU but could also be obtained by non-EU nationals in countries from where travel to the bloc is permitted.

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That means they are likely to be available for UK holidaymakers, as a number of countries such as France, Greece, Turkey and Cyprus have confirmed they expect to welcome the return of British tourists this summer.

The process for obtaining a certificate has not been confirmed, as the plan stated they will be issued by national health authorities.

The document – which the EU is not describing as a “passport” – will be available in digital and paper formats.

Southern European states including Spain and Greece have pushed for the measure to be introduced as their economies are heavily reliant on the summer holiday season.

But several EU members, such as France, have expressed concern it could discriminate against the majority of people who have not been offered a vaccine.

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The plan will be discussed next week during a summit of EU leaders.

Rory Boland, editor of magazine Which? Travel, said: “If international travel resumes this summer, many people in the UK will be looking to head to destinations in the EU and thousands have already booked.

“It is crucial that requirements for tests and vaccines are made clear well ahead of countries opening up, so consumers aren’t at risk of losing their trip and their money if they do not have the right tests or correct evidence of vaccination.

“It’s important that these rules and requirements remain consistent, as changing them could leave travellers footing the bill again and further risk undermining consumers’ confidence in booking a holiday.”

Meanwhile a flight from Singapore to London Heathrow on Wednesday carried the world’s first passengers to use a health pass developed by airline trade body the International Air Transport Association.

Iata director-general Alexandre de Juniac said the Travel Pass is being developed to enable passengers to “efficiently and securely” carry proof of vaccine and tests.

The organisation hopes to demonstrate to the UK Government that “the solution works” as part of efforts to “help the world get moving again”.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove is heading up a review into “Covid status certificates”.

It is understood he is considering the possibility of the NHS coronavirus app featuring a digital health passport, which would carry details of vaccinations and negative test results.

Boris Johnson told a Downing Street press conference last month that documents providing proof that someone has received a jab “raise all sorts of issues”, but he added that certificates enabling international travel “will be a feature of our life in the future”.

The Government’s Global Travel Taskforce will provide a report to the Prime Minister on April 12 setting out recommendations for how and when foreign holidays could resume.

Leisure travel is currently banned for people living in the UK, but the rule could be relaxed for those in England from May 17.