European Union Announces Coronavirus Passport to Allow Free Travel in Bloc | Health News

The European Commission on Wednesday announced its proposal for a “Digital Green Certificate” that will allow European Union citizens to travel freely across the bloc as countries around the world grapple with how best to reopen borders amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Digital Green Certificate is digital proof that a person has either been vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result or recovered from the virus. It will be in digital or paper format that contains a QR code with a digital signature to protect against forgery and falsification and is completely free, the commission said.

Each issuing body, a hospital, testing center or health authority, will have its own digital signature, all of which are stored in a secure database in each country. The European Commission will develop a “gateway” where all certificate signatures can be verified across the EU.

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The certificate will be accepted in all EU member states and “will help to ensure that restrictions currently in place can be lifted in a coordinated manner.” It will contain a person’s name, date of birth, date of issuance, relevant information regarding a vaccine, test result or recovery and a unique identifier.

The information will not be retained by visited countries, only the validity and authenticity of the certificate is checked by verifying who issued and signed it. All health data will be stored by the country that issued the certificate.

When traveling, EU citizens or those legally staying and residing in the bloc who possess a Green Certificate will be exempted from travel restrictions. Member states that continue to require certificate holders to quarantine or receive negative COVID-19 tests “must notify the commission and all other member states and justify this decision.”

“The certificate is an opportunity for member states to adjust the existing restrictions on public health grounds. We would expect them to take this proof of people’s COVID-19 status into account to facilitate travel,” the commission said.

The commission said the digital infrastructure to facilitate the certificates will be set up by summer. It is also working with the World Health Organization to ensure that the digital certificates can be recognized elsewhere in the world, as well.

For people who receive a coronavirus vaccination before the certificates are established, the commission said member states should issue vaccination certificates. The member states will have to accept the vaccination certificate as an exemption to free movement restrictions.

The system is a temporary measure and will be suspended once WHO declares the end of the pandemic.