As winter closes in and coronavirus restrictions are ramped up, tens of thousands of people have rallied around Europe in recent weeks in protest against the tightening of measures and against the requirement for COVID-19 certificates.
The EU’s COVID pass contains proof that the holder has either been vaccinated, has in the past recovered from the disease, or has recently tested negative.
But some German states are now demanding proof of vaccination and daily negative tests. From next month, Italy will require proof of vaccination or having recovered to access a host of free-time activities over the holiday season. Tests will no longer be enough.
“Holders of (an) EU certificate should, in principle, not be subject to additional restrictions, wherever they come from in the European Union. Restrictions such as additional tests or quarantine, for instance,” Reynders, the justice commissioner, told reporters.
The commission says scientific evidence shows that vaccine immunity begins to diminish after about 6 months. But it’s recommending that certificates should continue to be accepted as valid for 9 months after the first shot.
Some countries want booster shots to be mandatory for the certificates to be valid. France, for example, wants to require them on certificates for people over 65, while neighboring Belgium does not think it’s necessary yet.
“The commission is not proposing any period of validity for boosters at the moment,” Reynders said.
Brussels also wants to end the EU's safe-country list for non-essential travel. Like other countries, the United States has been on and off it as the pandemic spread in waves. That is set to change from March 1, if the 27 member countries agree.
“Now we are moving away from this country-based approach to an individual approach," EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said. “All people that are vaccinated can come into the European Union.”
Travelers who have had EU-approved vaccines would simply be able to enter, while those with other WHO-endorsed shots would also have to submit a negative PCR test as well. But certificates that these travelers present must not be more than 9 months old.
Frank Jordans in Berlin, and Colleen Barry in Milan, Italy, contributed to this report.
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