One shot of coronavirus vaccine may be enough to travel within EU

One shot of coronavirus vaccine may be enough to travel within EU
Credit: Belga

People who have received just one shot of a coronavirus vaccine may be able to use proof of vaccination on the Digital Green Certificate to travel between the European Union member states.

This was disclosed to De Standaard by an EU source, who said there is hope that the negotiations on the certificate will be finalised this week.

"Parliament, Council and Commission negotiators will resume talks - aimed at hammering out a deal this week- on the proposal for an EU certificate to show a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, has a negative test result or has recovered from the virus," a press release on the European Parliament agenda for Tuesday's plenary sessions stated.

The implementation of the certificate, which was proposed by the European Commission and was approved by the European Parliament at the end of April, should "allow for smooth and safe travel within the EU from the end of June until the end of the pandemic."

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The source told De Standaard that "there is a will among all member states to reach an agreement this week," but said it was unsure whether it would be ready for implementation by 21 June.

They added that those who have only received one shot of a vaccine that requires two vaccinations, such as Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca, would be able to travel freely with proof of vaccination on the certificate.

Young people in most member states will only have received one vaccine by this point, meaning this decision, if it goes ahead, could be a pivotal one for their freedoms this summer.

Travel by testing

Testing negative for the coronavirus will also be included on the certificate, and MEPs previously stressed that in order to avoid discrimination against those not vaccinated and for economic reasons, EU countries should “ensure universal, accessible, timely and free of charge testing.”

The European Parliament's original demand was that the PCR tests be free of charge, however, that is a competence of the individual Member States. A passage is expected to be added recommending that countries ensure that PCR tests are affordable, to avoid the price of mandatory testing reaching levels seen in the UK, where it can cost up to £170 for two tests.

However, according to Professor Dirk Devroey, dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacology at the University of Brussels (VUB), if Belgium's testing capacity doesn't improve before summer, it will not be able to keep up with the demand, and people "may not be able to go on holiday."

“If we have to test everyone who goes on holiday on departure and return, then we will have a huge capacity shortage. We don’t know where to get doctors and nurses to do more testing,” Devroey said.

Meanwhile, negotiations on several aspects of the certificate are still ongoing, including the statement that member states should not impose additional restrictions such as quarantine on those who have a certificate, as this is a contentious issue between countries.

Countries where tourism is an important sector want to create as few barriers as possible for travellers, whilst others want an emergency break to intervene quickly if things get out of hand in other EU member states.

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo has previously said that it will officially be determined how the EU’s “Digital Green Certificate” can be used, and in which way it will ensure that travel can be made easier, during the European Council meeting on 25 May.

He also stressed that both within and outside of Belgium, which will be one of the first member states to participate in the first pilot phase of the travel pass, it is “very important” that this does not open the door to a society that uses some kind of system to see if people are allowed to do something.

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