To protect their citizens and make travel easier, the European Union is considering implementing a COVID-19 vaccine passport. Among other EU countries, the Czech Republic is also planning to use a digital health pass for its citizens.
Tomáš Petříček, the Czech Foreign Minister, expressed his opinion about the necessity of having a digital passport:
“If we are unable to reach an agreement on a vaccine passport across the EU, then we will at least start negotiating with our neighbors about a green pass for our region.”
According to Ursula von der Leyen, the new digital passport will provide the ‘proof that a person has been vaccinated; results of tests for those who couldn’t get a vaccine yet; and info on the COVID-19 recovery.’ As planned, the COVID-19 vaccine passport app, The CommonPass, will be launched in the nearest future. The application will have such features as each country’s entry rules, vaccination details, and COVID-19 test results. All this information will be connected either to the health provider or the clinic where you got the vaccine/took the test. The data of users is encrypted, and each user will receive a unique QR code.
The tourism industry is at the forefront of those planning to use the vaccine passes. It provides approximately 27 million jobs throughout Europe and produces around 10% EU’s GDP. Furthermore, certain airlines have announced that they will require a vaccine passport for travel. As a vivid example, Qantas is planning to demand proof of vaccination or recovery from the virus on their international flights. Moreover, Greece and Spain are thinking of welcoming tourists only if they can prove their vaccination status.
Most countries hope that the COVID-19 vaccine passport will become available at the beginning of summer to boost tourismю However, it could take time (even until September), because of the slow rollout of the vaccines across the EU.
“What if I do not want to be vaccinated?” The question of guarding human rights and balancing them with health priorities has been a significant topic of debate between France, Germany, and the World Health Organization. Furthermore, the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission emphasized the issue and mentioned that it will lead to ‘unlawful’ discrimination. At the moment, it still remains a topic for discussion as the rules and guidelines for COVID vaccine passports are being drafted. The final proposal will be released in the middle of March.
Meanwhile, Israel has implemented a similar program which is called ‘green pass.’ Thanks to the high speed of vaccination, people can go about their routines. Vaccinated people have access to gyms, cafes, and restaurants.