Greece has launched its COVID-19 “digital pass” system for EU citizens to facilitate tourism during its peak summer season.
Six other EU member states — Bulgaria, Czechia, Denmark, Germany, Croatia and Poland — have also launched the system ahead of a full continent-wide release planned for July 1.
The European Commission said in an announcement that the digital certificate — which applies to EU citizens only — will verify pass holders’ coronavirus status to show whether they’ve been vaccinated, have a recent negative test result or have proof of recovery from the virus.
The certificate is free and will be available in digital or paper form with a QR code. The gateway will verify digital signatures contained in the QR codes without processing personal data.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was first to propose the certificate in January 2021 to help bring back Europe’s devastated tourism economy.
More than 20 countries have successfully tested the system since last month, the EU Commission said.
“The EU Digital COVID Certificate shows the value added of effective e-health solutions for our citizens,” Stella Kyriakides, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said. “It is important that during the coming weeks, all Member States fully finalize their national systems to issue, store and verify certificates, so the system is functioning in time for the holiday season.”
But regardless of EU-wide proposals, each member country will still be able to impose its own COVID measures including entry and exit requirements — a situation which could create confusion for incoming tourists.
The EU’s goal is to administer at least one vaccine dose to 70 percent of the bloc’s 450 million people by late July. More than 250 million doses have been administered so far with more than 80 million Europeans fully vaccinated.
The European Medicines Agency has approved four vaccines including Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca/Oxford University, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
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