The European Parliament approved, by a large majority, the regulation that will establish the digital EU covid certificate, or green pass, which will come into force on July 1st. President David Sassoli announced this when he opened the meeting in Strasbourg. The pass will certify the complete vaccination (valid from 14 days after the last dose), the recovery from covid-19 (the positive swab is valid, after the eleventh day for 180 days) and the negative outcome of a test (72 hours of validity for the molecular, 48 hours for the rapid).
How the green pass works
The certificate will be issued free of charge by the national authorities and will be available in digital or paper format with a QR code. In practice, these are three separate certificates for vaccination, recovery and testing. A common EU framework will make certificates compatible and verifiable across the European Union, as well as preventing fraud and falsification.
The system will apply from 1 July 2021 and will remain in effect for 12 months. The certificate will not be a precondition for free movement and will not be considered a travel document.
During the negotiations between the institutions, MEPs obtained an agreement stipulating that EU states will not be able to impose further travel restrictions on certificate holders, such as quarantine, self-isolation or testing, “unless they are necessary and proportionate to safeguard public health “. Scientific evidence will have to be taken into account, “including epidemiological data published by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)”. The measures should be notified, if possible, 48 hours in advance to the other Member States and the Commission, while the public should be given 24 hours’ notice.
EU countries are encouraged to ensure that tests are affordable and widely available. At the request of the Parliament, the Commission has committed to mobilize € 100 million from the Emergency Support Facility to allow Member States to purchase tests for the issuance of EU covid digital test certificates.
What is the covid or green pass certificate for?
The digital EU covid certificate, or green pass, will help travelers within the EU who hold it to avoid being tested and / or quarantined when traveling within the EU. From 1 July, when the regulation comes into force, the pass will be a right for all EU citizens who meet the requirements: it is valid for those who have been vaccinated, for those who have recovered from covid-19 and for those who undergo a test and is negative. The Gateway, the EU IT platform that makes the Pass possible, is already in operation and states that intend to anticipate the times can also make use of it immediately.
All EU countries must accept vaccination certificates issued in other Member States for vaccines authorized by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). It will be up to the Member States to decide whether to also accept certificates for vaccines authorized under national procedures or for vaccines listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) for emergency use. All personal data must be processed in line with the General Data Protection Regulation. The certificates will be verified offline and no personal data will be stored.
The green pass for the vaccinated, for the recovered and for those who swab
- The pass will be valid from fourteen days after the last dose of the anti-covid vaccine. Beginning that day, fully vaccinated people, i.e. with two doses for AstraZeneca, Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna and with one dose for Janssen (J&J), who hold the certificate, should be exempt from testing and quarantines while traveling. The same must be true for people who have recovered and who have received only one dose of the vaccine, considered sufficient to be protected from the disease. A country is free to choose to recognize and issue the pass even after the first dose, but each state can decide to behave as it sees fit, in this case: therefore, for example, Italy can issue the pass after the first dose, but Denmark is free not to recognize it and to ask for a test. If a member state accepts a vaccination test to remove the restrictions inside after the first dose, then it must also accept EU vaccine passes, under the same conditions.
- People recovered from covid-19 should be exempt from testing and / or quarantine in the 180 days following the positive PCR test, which certifies the infection (validity is starting from the eleventh day after the test, once the period has ended. of contagiousness).
- For those who are not vaccinated or cured, then the test remains, which the pass certifies and which is thus recognized even abroad. A standard validity period is proposed for the tests (today each country determines the validity autonomously): for PCR or molecular tests the validity is 72 hours, while for rapid antigenic ones it is 48 hours. The fast ones, considered increasingly reliable, are recommended, but states are free to choose whether or not to accept them for the purposes of the pass.
- To avoid separating households at the border, minors traveling with parents exempt from quarantine, for example because they are vaccinated, should also be exempted from quarantine. Children under 6 years of age should also be exempted from testing: those aged 6 and up, however, will need to undergo testing.
- An emergency brake mechanism is envisaged: States can reintroduce restrictions also for vaccinated and cured people, if the epidemiological situation deteriorates rapidly or where a high prevalence of worrying variants is reported.