Updated: Feb 28
Things are looking hopeful for tourism in the European Union this summer. A lot of countries depend on it and will not be able to afford another season like 2020.
A common path for the EU’s safe reopening was much needed. Back in March 2021, the European Commission proposed the idea of a Digital Green Certificate to allow free movement between all 27 member countries. With a “green pass” on the way, all EU residents will be able to travel more freely this summer. The certificate is planned to roll out across the EU by June 2021, according to the European Commission.
What is the Digital Green Certificate?
The Digital Green Certificate will contain key information such as name, date of birth, the issuing Member State, and a unique QR code. It will act as proof and include information for one of the following:
a vaccination certificate: vaccine product and manufacturer, number of doses, date of vaccination;
a test certificate: type of test, date and time of test, test centre and result;
a recovery certificate: date of the positive test result, issuer of the certificate, date of issuance, validity date.
The certificate will come in digital format or on paper, depending on the preference of its holder. People who have not yet been vaccinated or do not have a green certificate can still travel, according to the European Commission, but will have to adhere to the country’s current restrictions such as testing or quarantine/self-isolation.
What tests does the Digital Green Certificate include?
The Health Security Committee (HSC) has adopted a common standardised set of data to be included in Covid-19 test result certificates. While the real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test remains the “gold standard”, Rapid Antigen Tests will also be recognised.
Earlier in May 2021, the HSC updated the common list of Covid-19 rapid antigen tests that are considered appropriate for use and meet the following criteria:
carry CE marking;
meet the minimum performance requirements of ≥ 90% sensitivity and ≥ 97% specificity;
have been validated by at least one Member State as being appropriate for their use in the context of Covid-19, providing details on the methodology and results of such studies, such as the sample type used for validation, the setting in which the use of the test was assessed, and whether any difficulties occurred as regards the required sensitivity criteria or other performance elements.
Are masks still important?
Masks are probably here to stay for the near future. Although a lot of countries are lifting curfews, and re-opening bars and restaurants, some restrictions will remain. For example, in Austria, special measures set to be in place this summer include an FFP2 mask requirement in all public indoor areas, such as public transport, museums, shops, and on cable cars, according to The Local. In Italy, mask-wearing will be required in public places, both indoor and outdoor.
Although the world seems to be slowly recovering and big steps are made to ensure safe travel, testing and wearing masks will not go away overnight. Timely detection of the virus and protection need to continue in order to minimise the further spread of the virus and its variants. A common document like the Digital Green Certificate will be a useful tool to make this process easier and less confusing.