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Details of the New Vaccine Passports for European Travel

Travelers to Europe are quickly discovering that being vaccinated against Covid-19 is a golden key that unlocks access not only to being able to enter a country but also to enjoy its daily pleasures. As the delta variant pushes Covid-19 infections higher across the continent, a growing number of European countries have very recently decided that it’s time to use less carrot and more stick to incentivize getting vaccinated.

From France to Greece and from Denmark to Portugal, governments are adding friction to everyday life by mandating proof of vaccination status for a wide array of activities, which often include staying at hotels, dining at restaurants and visiting museums. Here’s where vaccine verifications are required in top European destinations.


Yesterday, France officially mandated a health pass to enter museums, movie theaters, sports venues, festivals, top tourist attractions and all events or places with more than 50 people. Beginning August 1, the health pass requirement will be extended to adults at restaurants, cafés, shopping centers, “as well as for travel by plane, train and bus for long-distance journeys,” according to the app’s website.


Since July 16, Greece has required individuals to use a health pass to patronize indoor establishments such as restaurants, bars, night clubs and cinemas — but not the outdoor terraces of these establishments. The pass confirms an individual’s vaccination status, proof of a recent negative test or prior infection.


Earlier this month, Portugal began requiring hotel guests to show proof of vaccination status or provide a negative Covid-19 test or proof of recovery from the illness. The same requirement is in place for dining indoors from Friday to Sunday across the country in 60 municipalities, including Lisbon and Porto. Nightclubs are still closed in Portugal.


Last week in northwestern Spain, the Galicia region — home to Santiago de Compostela — became the first Spanish territory to require its citizens to show proof of their Covid health status to gain access to indoor cafés, bars and restaurants. Yesterday, the Canary government followed suit, making the digital Covid certificate a requirement for patrons at cafés, bars and restaurants on the island of Tenerife.


As of yesterday, restaurants and pubs across Ireland are reopen for indoor dining for patrons who can prove they are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or have recovered from the illness within the past six months. Patrons must show a photo ID along with proof of their vaccination status, and they need to provide a phone number for contact-tracing purposes. Children under 12 are exempt. “The safest way to now proceed with a return to indoor hospitality is to limit access to those who have been fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid infection,” said Irish Prime Minister Michael Martin last month when announcing the restriction.


Austria is using its so-called “3G rule” of “Getestet, Geimpft, Genesen” — “Tested, Vaccinated, Recovered” — to regulate entry to indoor restaurants, hotels, nightclubs, and cultural events. The rule requires patrons to show proof of vaccination status, recovery from the virus or a recent negative PCR test when entering establishments. Since mid-July, anyone breaching the law can land an on-the-spot fine of 90 euros ($106 US).


Starting August 6, Italy will mandate a digital green pass to visit indoor venues such as restaurants, theaters, stadiums, cinemas and museums. The digital pass confirms whether a person has received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine dose, recovered from the illness within the last six months or tested negative within the past 48 hours. Prime Minister Mario Draghi has warned what will happen if too few Italians get vaccinated: “No vaccines mean a new lockdown.”


Beginning August 13, Belgium will introduce its “Covid Safe Ticket” for live outdoor concerts and festivals with more than 1,500 attendees. Starting September 1, the pass will expand to large indoor events.


Just days ago, Angela Merkel’s chief of staff, Helge Braun, warned that restrictions for unvaccinated people may be coming in Germany. Unvaccinated people may soon be barred from entering indoor venues like restaurants, movie theaters and sports stadiums and that “vaccinated people will definitely have more freedoms than unvaccinated people.”

The United Kingdom

Boris Johnson’s government has proposed requiring a Covid pass to enter nightclubs and concert venues beginning in late September, but the plan must first be approved by Parliament before being adopted. The U.K. government has been in talks with Premier League soccer officials to potentially require proof of vaccination to attend matches beginning in October.

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