EU revives bloc-wide travel with COVID pass

2021-07-03 12:39:02China Daily/Agencies Editor : Mo Hong'e ECNS App Download

As the European summer vacation season hits its stride on Thursday with a new travel pass in place, the European Union's medical office and a top airline chief issued reassuring messages on traveling, despite the threat of the surging Delta coronavirus variant.

Many airports witnessed busy scenes as masses of people sought beach paradise in the sunny southern EU nations, along with their digital COVID-19 travel certificates.

The EU Digital Certificate officially came into effect on Thursday even though many member states had started introducing it over the past month, seeking to boost the summer season by making movement as seamless as possible.

The certificate applies in three situations: It attests whether a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, whether they have had a recent negative test, or whether they are considered immune having previously contracted the disease.

"With this, everyone in Europe should be able to travel safely and freely this summer," said EU Commission spokesman Christian Wigand. In the bloc of 450 million citizens, he said that more than 200 million certificates have already been generated so far.

However, every EU citizen had been warned about the need for extreme vigilance, after COVID-19 devastated families and economies across the 27-nation bloc over the past year.

Reassuring news

But Dr Marco Cavaleri, the European Medicines Agency's head of vaccines strategy, was reassuring. He said that the four approved vaccines in the EU are all "protective against all strains that are circulating in Europe", including the Delta variant that emerged in India.

"Emerging data from real world evidence are showing that two doses of vaccines are protective against the Delta variant," he told reporters.

For airline industry leaders with a huge financial stake in this, those are sweet words.

Michael O'Leary, chief executive officer of Ryanair, announced the opening of more routes south from Brussels airports.

"A huge amount of both the UK population and, increasingly, the European adult population are fully vaccinated, therefore they are not at risk," he said.

This does not mean that all tourism transport has gone back to its smooth former state. Germany classifies countries in three risk categories, and Portugal became the only EU member to be listed as a "virus variant area" in Berlin's highest-risk bracket on Tuesday.


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