Vaccination certificates: back to normality?
Digital coronavirus vaccination certificates are coming, participants at Thursday's EU summit agreed. Whether or not such certificates - which are to be valid throughout Europe - will allow their holders freedom of travel is still under discussion. Greece, Spain, Italy and Austria, all of which rely heavily on tourism, argue that they should. Many commentators say the discussion is premature.
Holidays will have to wait
The EU and its institutions are once again setting the wrong priorities, Der Standard admonishes:
“A vaccination certificate is just a pie in the sky and illusory as long as only a fraction of the population is vaccinated. Other things are more urgent. ... Our priorities now are to reduce infection numbers, reinforce regional solutions, keep the economy going, coordinate on border crossings - and then, and only then, to encourage travel for pleasure. ... The coronavirus crisis keeps slipping out of the grasp of the governments and the head of the Commission. The old EU structures are no longer suitable for dealing with such a major crisis. So the key questions are: How to wake up 27 heads of state and government? What is the EU Parliament doing? Who will break through the deadlock?”
Not carefully thought through
Some important questions remain unanswered, says Dagens Nyheter:
“Sure, it would be practical for airlines and hotel owners if customers could just present a document or, even better, a digital certificate on their mobile phone showing that they pose no threat to their surroundings. But it is neither certain that they are not contagious nor is it clear how long the protection lasts. Also, there is still not that much vaccine available, which means the vaccination sequence will decide. Some have medical problems such as allergies that require special solutions. And should proof of antibodies count the same as vaccination?”
Prepare now for the summer
It's now time to launch what could be put to good use in the summer, writes El País approvingly:
“In Europe, where the proportion of the population that has been vaccinated to date is still very small, it may seem premature to introduce a vaccination passport that gives citizens access to certain places and activities once they've been vaccinated. But it's a joint mission that's worthy of being prepared and introduced in a few months' time once there are more guarantees. ... Despite the discrepancies expressed by some beforehand, an agreement was eventually reached. A welcome development! ... In this debate, discrimination should not be viewed as a negation of rights, because the new certificate will simply be one more tool for restricting freedom of movement, like the tests, quarantines and local curfews.”
The name will be where compromises are made
Vaccination passports will be introduced, but they will go by a different name, Radio Europa Liberă suspects:
“The French, for example, are completely against such passports for ethical reasons. Airlines, on the other hand, are pressuring for the introduction of such documents, which passengers would have to present when boarding. This would mean that people who for whatever reason don't get vaccinated would no longer be able to travel. ... Most likely, people will be issued with some kind of multilingual vaccination certificate that is recognised in all 27 EU member states. But this will not be a true 'vaccination passport', as the countries which rely most on tourism would like it to be - not just Greece, but also Italy and Spain.”