Saturday, November 27, 2021

Vaccine passports may save Europe’s summer, but only for the lucky ones

(CNN) — The door to summer is slowly creaking open in Europe, and for those who want to stroll through it to take a vacation amid ongoing Covid restrictions, the key may soon be at hand. While borders are likely to remain closed in the coming weeks, the European Union proposes rolling out a Digital Green Certificate.

Or a vaccine passport that will allow those with the required armfuls of approved anti-Covid pharmaceuticals or antibodies from having had the virus to travel freely. Negative tests could also be used to qualify. It’s a measure eagerly anticipated by Europe’s prime tourism destinations, among them Portugal, Spain, and Greece, where an absence of visitors over the past year has left gaping holes in national bank balances.

But will it be fair?

While the beleaguered tourism industry has delighted at the plan, which the EU is expected to vote on later in March, there are fears that patchy vaccination rollouts and supplies across Europe could mean some countries will enjoy more freedoms than others.

Likewise, with specific demographics targeted for early vaccination over others, some may be forced to remain at home, watching with jealousy as older citizens, many of whom will have received both jabs before the end of spring, jet off for their time in the sun.

And while the EU’s executive body, the European Commission, envisages its new Green Certificate simply as a document for allowing its citizens smooth transit across European frontiers, concerns have been raised that they will also become required for entry into restaurants, bars, or other venues and events.

While the newly Brexited UK won’t be part of the program, the success of its vaccination program could see special travel deals struck with some EU countries that will allow Brits to bypass the need for certification. Those EU citizens yet to qualify for vaccination — or unable to qualify — could be sidelined from the return to the normality most of us are eager to embrace unless they submit to frequent testing regimens.

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