Belgium ‘technically ready’ to start issuing EU Covid travel certificates
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Belgium ‘technically ready’ to start issuing EU Covid travel certificates

Credit: Belga

Belgium is among a list of European Union countries “technically ready” to connect to the technical gateway system to implement the European Union’s “Digital Green Certificate”, facilitating free movement within the EU during the pandemic.

Seven countries, including Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Croatia, and Poland, have already connected to the gateway to verify the certificates and have started issuing the first certificates, the European Commission said in a press release on Tuesday.

“The Go-Live of the Gateway today is an important step which will allow Member States to start using the Gateway and start issuing EU Digital COVID Certificates,” Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton said.

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“I encourage others to follow as soon as possible. The timely preparation will allow the full system to be up and running by 1 July – when the proposal enters into application and the EU will be on time to open up again this summer,” he added.

When implemented, the European Covid certificate, available in digital and paper form, will allow travellers to show the country they are entering that they have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, have a recent negative PCR Covid-19 test, or have been infected in the past, and are therefore immune.

Monday’s update to the Council Recommendation on how to lift restrictions on free movement in the EU proposed that children under six should be exempt from testing for travel and that children should not have to quarantine if their parents have been exempt after travelling abroad.

On Friday, Belgium’s Consultative Committee will meet to bring clarity about the EU ‘Digital Covid Certificate’, however, Belgian infectious diseases expert Nathan Clumeck already said Belgium would also require a PCR test for travellers returning from a red zone country on the European pandemic map (ECDC map), or with a high presence of variants.

Other countries have also decided to ensure all functions are deployed nationally before launching the certificate.

Before the regulation can officially be applied, the political agreement of 20 May has to be formally adopted by the European Parliament and the Council.

Member States that need more time after 1 July will have a transition period of six weeks (until mid-August) to implement the system.