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EU to set nine-month limit for validity of Covid-19 travel pass

The measure is set to come into force from 1 February if it receives approval from member states.

Image: Alamy Stock Photo

THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION is poised to limit the validity of vaccine recognition in the EU Covid-19 certificate to nine months.

In a statement, the Commission said it has adopted “a binding acceptance period of nine months (precisely 270 days) of vaccination certificates for the purposes of intra-EU travel”, to come into force from 1 February.

The measure, which needs the approval of EU member states to take effect, comes as the bloc rolls out booster vaccines under the shadow of the highly infectious Omicron variant.

Several EU countries had already announced measures that would soon consider double-jabbed people no longer “fully vaccinated” unless they also received a booster shot.

France, for instance, had said all adults whose second dose was more than seven months old would no longer count for a national Covid pass, which is part of the EU Covid certificate system, from 15 January unless they could show a third vaccination.

Seven other EU countries — Portugal, Ireland, Cyprus, Latvia, Italy, Greece and Austria — have also brought in emergency measures requiring even vaccinated EU travellers to take pre-departure Covid tests or to quarantine on arrival.

The EU move seeks to harmonise acceptance of its Covid certificate across the bloc by making the validity of each vaccine nine months.

EU justice commissioner Didier Reynders said the European Union needed to “adjust to changing circumstances and new knowledge”.

He warned that “unilateral measures in the member states would bring us back to the fragmentation and uncertainties” that, before the EU Covid certificate was introduced in July, saw testing and quarantine barriers spring up to travel in the EU.

“It’s now up to the member states to ensure boosters will be rolled out swiftly to protect our health and ensure safe travelling,” he said.

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The EU Covid certificate has become a standard in the EU and dozens of non-EU countries for showing the bearer is immune to or free of Covid, notably by recording the vaccination status.

It is also used by many EU countries domestically as a pass for people to be allowed into venues such as restaurants and entertainment or sporting events.

© AFP 2021

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