'We already have tests': Wilmès opposes mandatory vaccine passports to travel

'We already have tests': Wilmès opposes mandatory vaccine passports to travel
Belgium's Foreign Affairs Minister Sophie Wilmès. Credit: Belga

Belgium opposes the requirement of a Covid-19 vaccination passport to enter a country, as strict testing rules should already prevent infections from being imported, according to Foreign Affairs Minister Sophie Wilmès.

The European Commission is working on a "Digital Green Pass" for travel, which will provide proof that a person has been vaccinated or tested, as well as info on Covid-19 recovery.

However, Belgium fears that vaccination will be used as a condition for people to cross borders, if vaccination passports will be required by a country to enter its territory.

"That is not right. Vaccination is not compulsory in our country," Wilmès told Bel RTL on Tuesday morning.

"We do not want vaccination to become the key to reaching a country," Wilmès said. For southern countries who want to revive tourism, "a filter already exists, in the form of tests and quarantine."

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"If you make entry into a European country conditional on the presentation of a passport, you are de facto making vaccination compulsory, or you are discriminating against the ability to travel, which is also wrong," she added.

When asked how Wilmès' stance on not restricting freedom of movement is compatible with Belgium's current ban on non-essential travel, she said that the ban is temporary.

"It is proportional to a problem we have at the moment. We hope to be able to lift this ban as soon as possible," Wilmès said, adding that it is too early to do so at the moment.

This month, the European Commission will table a legislative proposal for the digital pass, which should make clear what it will look like, President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Monday.

However, Wilmès already stated that it was "out of the question" that Belgium would link vaccinations to freedom of movement in Europe.

“Respect for the principle of non-discrimination is all the more fundamental because vaccination is not compulsory and there is not yet universal access to the vaccine," she tweeted.

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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