BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union will on Wednesday unveil a COVID-19 pass to allow free travel this summer and support the struggling tourism sector despite the bloc’s sluggish vaccination campaign and the risks posed by new coronavirus variants.
The EU’s executive European Commission will propose creating a bloc-wide “green digital certificate” that would combine information on vaccination, COVID-19 tests and recovery from the disease to allow people to take flights and cross borders.
“It will allow everyone from the European Union to come and visit us with security,” said Alfonso Lopez, director of The Hat hotel and Villa Verbena restaurant in Madrid.
“I think it will help us have a reasonable summer season,” he said, calling last summer “an absolute disaster”.
In Paris, 63-year-old pensioner Patrick Job – sporting a lapel pin reading: “I am vaccinated against COVID-19” – looked forward to travelling again after more than a year of lockdowns and restrictions that have thrust Europe into a record economic recession.
“A COVID-19 health pass would allow us to travel, to get back a little bit of freedom. And to be able to see other things, at least to go on holiday for a few days, or on a weekend,” Job said while walking his dog.
The Commission hopes EU member states and the bloc’s parliament will agree on the proposal in June, in time for the summer season.
Seeking a “safe and sustainable reopening” for Europe, the Commission will also tell EU countries to exempt cross-border workers and freight transport from strict travel restrictions and offer a joint gateway for national passenger location forms.
Vaccination campaigns have got off to a slow start in many EU countries due to scarce supply and with fears of new coronavirus variants spreading, the 27 countries face an uphill battle agreeing shared standards for reopening.
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