Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Government rejects creation of vaccination passport (for now) – ZAP

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António Pedro Santos / Lusa

The Minister of Economy and State, Pedro Siza Vieira

The Ministry of Economy considers, at this stage, premature to discuss the creation of a “vaccination passport”, an idea that is dividing partners in the European Union (EU).

Questioned by the agency Lusa on what is the executive’s position on the eventual creation of this document, the Ministry of Economy and Digital Transition said, in a written response, to consider – “at this stage, when the vaccination process in the EU is still concentrated in priority groups” – “premature discuss the creation of so-called vaccination passports ”.

The ministry recalls that under the Portuguese Presidency, “the Council of the European Union has already approved the common framework for massive use of rapid tests for screening covid-19 and for the recognition of PCR and antigen test results across the EU ”and working on“ now to move forward with the recognition and technical certification of vaccination, as well as a possible medical recovery certificate ”.

Minister Pedro Siza Vieira’s office recalls, however, that “Portugal has been following the development of various technological solutions aimed at aerial recovery, some of which are based on the concept of ‘vaccination tourist passports’”, but underlines that it appears “fundamental (…) that rules should first be defined on the conditions under which trips can be made”.

Rules that “ideally should be harmonized at European level” and that “they must then be disseminated profusely to be of general knowledge and to allow those who comply with them to travel”, he adds.

Several European countries have supported the issuing of vaccination certificates in order to facilitate the travel of people immunized against covid-19, but the idea of ​​a “vaccination passport” is still generating controversy.

In January, Greece submitted a proposal to the European Commission (which received support from Portugal) to allow vaccination certificates to be issued as well. used to facilitate travel in the community space.

Meanwhile, the Greek authorities signed an agreement with Israel on Monday that will allow vaccinated Greek and Israeli citizens to travel unrestricted to both countries.

At EU level, talks between the 27 Member States are underway to assess common standards for mutual recognition of vaccination certificates for that purpose, but at this stage there is still no common position on the implications, rights and ethical issues (such as discrimination between European citizens in accessing the vaccine, not forgetting that administration is voluntary) involved in this matter.

For now, the 27 have already adopted guidelines on proof of vaccination against covid-19 for medical purposes, in order to guarantee its “interoperability” and ensure that its content is “uniform”.

Spain, another country with a strong tourist market, has not yet launched a “vaccination passport”, but Madrid is in favor of the idea. The same happens in Italy.

A Sweden it’s at Denmark have already announced the creation of digital vaccination certificates for travel abroad, documents that can also be used to access sports or cultural events. In the Danish case, these certificates can also be used to access restaurants.

A Iceland, which is not a member of the EU but integrates the Schengen area (European area of ​​free movement), became, in late January, one of the first countries to issue these certificates.

I’m on Estonia, travelers are exempt from quarantine upon arrival in the country if they show proof of vaccination documents, a PCR molecular test or a serological test (antibody test).

Among the countries “reticent” to this concept is France, who considers that the debate on this issue could take place “in a few months”, and the Germany, whose authorities are opposed to lifting restrictions for a single vaccinated population.

On Belgium, there is also no question of making participation in a given activity conditional on the possession of a “vaccination passport”. With regard to travel, the country awaits the outcome of discussions at European level and the World Health Organization (WHO).

On Poland, the executive does not foresee instituting, at this moment, this kind of passport, but launched an application for mobile phones, titled in Portuguese “Vacinado”, which allows its holder to avoid a quarantine period when entering the country.

Despite being in favor of the principle of vaccination certificates to monitor immunization campaigns in countries, WHO is review the introduction of this “vaccination passport” as a prerequisite, for example, to travel.

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Government rejects creation of vaccination passport (for now) - ZAP