Hopes The number of overseas summer holidays was boosted last night after the European Union announced that the UK vaccination passport program could open.
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, announced plans for a so-called “Digital Green Pass” to boost the journey.
It could go into effect as early as June, and the idea would be to open it up to non-EU countries in order to unlock the continent’s beaches and resorts in time for the lucrative summer season.
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, revealed plans for a so-called “Digital Green Pass”.
Last night, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the UK was in talks with Brussels and he believes the plan also included making travel easier for unvaccinated tourists who can provide evidence of a recent negative test.
It came when Spain announced it had opened side calls with British officials and Greece said its proposal with the UK included accepting unvaccinated tourists who could show evidence of a negative test.
Several EU countries have called for travel restrictions to be relaxed to boost their Covid-ravaged economies.
When Ms. von der Leyen announced the measures yesterday, she said the “vaccination passports” program would aim to open up travel within the block first, increasing the prospect of Europeans booking hotels and resorts before the British get the chance get to join the program.
She said: “The Digital Green Pass is intended to make life easier for Europeans. The aim is to gradually enable them to move around the EU or abroad safely for work or tourism.”
Crucially, however, her lead spokesperson added, “We believe there should be a way, in partnership with the World Health Organization, to expand this globally.”
A source close to the head of the European Commission said the British are “always welcome,” adding, “as long as you meet all conditions and standards.”
The UK’s Covid infection rate is believed to have to fall further before the program extends to the UK, but the comments will offer a glimmer of hope to lockdown-weary Brits desperately looking for a break abroad.
Boris Johnson spokesman said: “The Department of Transportation will work and talk to countries around the world about what they might look like to introduce passports.”
At the press conference on Downing Street last night, Hancock said, “We work with international partners. The EU is part of these discussions, as are several other countries around the world, and it is clearly important work.
“In a sense, this already exists because you need a test before you can travel to the UK. As far as I understand from the details set out today, the EU proposal is for certification to include both whether you had the vaccine and also whether you recently had a test for those who are not yet ready to be vaccinated.
“So we are working with them and others on it, and it is important that we know the details of this international travel law.”
However, UK Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam warned caution, saying there was still “great uncertainty” about the prospects for foreign holidays this summer.
He said the slow roll-out of the vaccine in Europe could destroy hopes of vacation there, adding: “We are still in a zone of great uncertainty about what the virus will do next. In addition, many of the vaccination programs in Europe – where we often go on vacation abroad – lag behind ours. ‘
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the UK was in talks with Brussels
A spokesman for Boris Johnson said the Department of Transportation will speak to countries around the world about what they might look like to introduce passports
The European Commission will present its final proposals on March 17th for its block-wide “vaccination pass” program, which EU leaders will discuss a week later at a summit in Brussels.
The timing is in line with the UK’s road map to ease travel restrictions. A task force led by the Ministry of Transport is due to report to the Prime Minister on April 12th on when international travel can resume. According to the roadmap, it can’t be earlier than May 17th.
Spain, where 18 million Britons vacationed each year before the pandemic, yesterday grabbed Ms von der Leyen’s announcement, and Tourism Minister Maria Reyes Maroto urged Brussels to accelerate plans.
She urged the Eurocrats to avoid “banning the movement of travelers within the internal market and also with third countries” and urged British holidaymakers to join the passport system.
Portuguese Economy Minister Pedro Siza Vieira said it was “important” for EU countries to put pressure on Brussels to resume the trip. However, Belgium said it didn’t like the passport plans because it could lead to discrimination.
Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmes said: “For Belgium it is out of the question to link vaccination with freedom of movement across Europe.”
Royal Caribbean is announcing a fully vaccinated cruise open only to passengers with bumps
Royal Caribbean has announced the “World’s First Fully Vaccinated Cruise” open only to passengers who have received Covid shocks.
All crew members and passengers over the age of 16 aboard the new ship Odyssey of the Seas will have been encountered on its maiden voyage from Israel in May, the company said.
The ship was originally scheduled to depart from Rome and sail to Florida, but the venue has been relocated to Israel due to the country’s rapid introduction of the country’s vaccine.
It is the first time that a cruise company has asked passengers for a vaccination certificate, fearing that the documents may soon be necessary in order to be able to participate in everyday life.
Governments around the world are currently debating whether the passports are required for activities such as air travel.
“The current situation across Europe is still uncertain and Israel has been praised by global experts and communities for its effective COVID-19 management and is therefore well positioned to resume cruise operations,” said Lyan Sierra-Caro, spokesman for the Royal Caribbean, across from USA Today.
Another spokesman added that the company is still working with Israeli health officials to find out how passengers can prove they are vaccinated.
The company also decides whether the type of vaccination a person received plays a role in whether or not they receive a ticket.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that he was proud that Israel would start the Odyssey of the Sea thanks to the country’s purchase of “millions of vaccines”.