The European Union initiated an EU-wide Digital Green Certificate, or vaccine passport, for travel within the EU; Spain announced it will require the passport by late June.
Rabat – On Thursday, April 15, Spain announced the implementation of COVID-19 vaccine passports under the European Union’s Digital Green Certificate program.
The passport will be administered as a personal QR code or physical documents and will allow EU citizens to enter Spain freely.
Spanish health officials have yet to announce specific details on the freedoms that will come with having a vaccine passport. However, the Spanish government hopes the passport will facilitate easier access to Spain, especially since the summer is a peak tourist season.
The EU stated that the Digital Green Certificate is a temporary measure and “will be suspended once the World Health Organization (WHO) declares the end of the COVID-19 international health emergency.”
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Rather than require a negative PCR test prior to travel, the passport will allow authorities to check for three travel requirements: proof of full vaccination, a certificate stating the traveler recently had COVID-19 and recovered, or a negative test confirming the person is not infected with the virus.
Only one of the three pieces of information will be required to enter Spain meaning those that have not been vaccinated will still be allowed entry.
For those that have recovered from the virus, officials define the period of immunity as being from day 11 after a positive test, up to six months later.
The Spanish health ministry expects to implement the passports by late June 2021.
Experts forecast an estimated 40 million travelers to visit in 2021 but health authorities maintain the position that responsible health practices are of utmost importance. Spain’s health officials fear a new strain of COVID-19 could offset the usefulness of the vaccine passport.
The European Union noted that the vaccine passport will be free for EU citizens and non-EU nationals that reside in the EU. Additionally, the EU stated that “member states have to bear the cost for setting up the infrastructure at national level.”
Spain’s health officials declared that accessibility to the vaccine passport is a top priority as many raise questions of discrimination towards those that refuse the vaccine and those that have yet to receive the vaccine.
Professor of Public Health at Madrid’s Autonomous University Fernando Rodríguez Artalejo, commented on the issue of discrimination in a public statement, “There is an element of justice to the fact that the most vulnerable people, who have had a worse time [during the pandemic], have been vaccinated first, and also have access to certain advantages.”
The professor noted that everyone will have access to the vaccine, and vaccination campaigns around the globe have already begun vaccinating low-risk individuals.