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TRAVEL NEWS

How the rules of the EU Covid certificate for travel will change from February

As infection rates surge in parts of Europe, the EU will limit the validity of its flagship Covid-19 certificate to nine months. The pass is designed to allow for restriction free travel within the bloc but certain countries are stepping up restrictions.

A customer shows her Green Pass on a mobile phone in a central Rome bar
How the EU could change its Covid certificate for travel Photo: Andreas SOLARO / AFP

Since it was rolled out in July the EU’s Covid certificate has allowed for those vaccinated, recovered or who tested negative for Covid, to travel freely within the bloc without the need for subsequent tests or quarantine.

However with cases now surging across the EU and the consensus between member states fractured as certain countries impose new travel restrictions, the European Commission has adopted new rules on the validity of the Covid-19 travel pass.

The Commission on Tuesday adopted rules that will make the certificate valid for just nine months after the holder became fully vaccinated, Reuters reported.

That means after two shots of a two dose vaccine such as Pfizer or Moderna or after one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vacccine.

After a booster shot, the validity of the COVID-19 pass will be extended further without a set limit.

The new rule could still be blocked by a qualified majority of EU governments or a simple majority of European Parliament members, but Reuters reports that officials have said there is sufficient support for it.

If passed, the new rules will be binding on the 27 EU states from Feb 1st.

 
Once the rule is in place in February, EU member states will be obliged to let fully vaccinated travellers with a valid pass enter the country. However individual countries could still impose further requirements, such as negative tests or quarantines, as long as they are proportionate.

Seven EU states are currently requiring fully vaccinated travellers from other EU countries to also show a negative test upon arrival, measures some see as damaging the credibility of the EU pass, Reuters reports.

Those countries are Italy, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Latvia, Cyprus and Austria.

Under the harmonised system the Covid certificates, which can be on paper or stored electronically on smartphones –  carry proof via a QR code that the holder has either:
  • been vaccinated against Covid-19
  • recently recovered from the virus (meaning the holder has antibodies in their system)
  • recently tested negative for Covid 
But a time limit for their use was never set and with studies revealing that immunity via vaccination wears off after six or seven months there has been increased pressure to add a duration length to the certificates as well as include mention of booster shots.
 
Given that borders are national competence not an EU one member states have always been allowed to introduce their own Covid entry rules and restrictions.
 
Separate to the harmonised EU travel agreement many member states such as France and Italy have made vaccine passes compulsory for entry into leisure venues such as bars and restaurants. 

Member comments

  1. Please change the picture – the lady holding out the phone has her crappy medical mask completely off her nose – not a good advert for adherence to the rules!

      1. It’s a matter of degree – without any masks, things would be much worse – but see my answer above regarding still allowing these masks vs only FFP2 masks

        1. Richard – out if interest, what triggers you pointing out to change the picture or to recommend to wear a FFP2 mask? Does it make you feel uncomfortable? Do you expect others to compensate for your fears? You might have an underlying condition you want to bring up with a healthcare professional. Take care and stay safe!

          1. Aah! I see that you have seen through my disguise. I am indeed a deranged ex-pat out to foment contestation, and eventually, with my long haired white cat at my side, seek to rule the world! Muhahaha
            Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and yours!

  2. The masks are not 100% in preventing infection, of course, but they do significantly reduce transmission. Really unhelpful to suggest otherwise.

    1. My main point was that she is wearing the mask incorrectly, so it is not effective. As to “crappy”, the FFP2 mask should have been made the only acceptable mask as soon as supplies were sufficient, yet many people wear these much inferior masks because they are still allowed to, even though FFP2 masks are vastly more effective.

  3. You are right Johanna, Masks don’t work. It’s has been proven, yet those in power refuse to look at the real science.

    1. Glenn, all those surgeons wearing masks during operations must be fashion statements, can’t possibly be because they work.

      1. The surgical masks are to prevent spittle from entering an open wound. That’s all. Now when doctors are working with dangerous infectious diseases they wear much more extensive protective gear.

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TRAVEL NEWS

What does Italy’s general strike on Friday mean for travel?

Italian trade unions have called a nationwide general strike for Friday, May 20th. Here's a look at how travel within the country will be affected.

What does Italy’s general strike on Friday mean for travel?

The strike has been organised by a range of national and regional trade unions representing various sectors in protest at the Italian government’s spending on the Ukraine war.

Union leaders say the funds should be targeted instead at increasing workers’ wages and, in turn, families’ purchasing power.

Walter Montagnoli, national secretary of the CUB union, told SkyTG24: “The conflict needs to be stopped. […] Draghi’s government is taking military expenses to 2 percent of our GDP: national defence expenses will go from 25 to 38 billion euros, thus reducing the budget for healthcare, education, public transport, the construction industry and, naturally, pensions and wages.”

Demonstrations are set to take place in cities across Italy, including in Milan, Rome, Messina, Palermo, Catania, Cagliari, Turin, Bologna, Venice, Florence, Pisa, Turin, Genoa, La Spezia, Reggio Emilia, Trieste, Bergamo and Taranto, according to media reports.

Strike action is otherwise expected to focus on the transport sector, meaning some disruption to travel plans is likely – depending on where you are in Italy and what time you’ll be travelling.

Here’s a look at what you should know before setting out on your journey on Friday. 

Train services 

Railroad services will be affected for a period of 24 hours, from 9pm on Thursday to 9pm on Friday.

However, Trenitalia has already communicated that Freccia and Intercity trains will run regularly and essential regional services will be guaranteed in the following time frames: 6am to 9am and 6pm to 9pm.

If you’re travelling with Italo, the company has published a list of its guaranteed services on its website

Local public transport 

Local public transport including buses, trams and metro trains in Italian towns and cities will also be affected by the strike action, but the magnitude of disruption to regular services will depend largely upon the area.

Rome and Milan will likely be the most affected cities.

In Milan, metro trains will run regularly until at least 6pm, whereas buses and tram services may be affected between 8.45am and 3pm and after 6pm.

In the capital, local transport providers ATAC and TPL said services will operate normally before 8.30am and from 5pm to 8pm.

If you’ll be commuting, you’re advised to consult the website of your local transport provider before setting off.

Flights

The ENAC (Italian Civil Aviation Authority) confirmed that all flights between 7am and 10am and between 6pm and 9pm will operate as normal.

However, they strongly suggest that travellers contact their airline to check the status of their flight before leaving for the airport.

See ENAC’s website for further information.

Travelling by car

Travelling by car might also be fairly problematic (or more problematic than it usually is) as motorway toll booth staff are set to strike from 10pm on Thursday to 10pm on Friday.

While the impact may differ from one part of the country to another, this is likely to mean a smaller number of toll booths are open and, as a result, lines at some motorway entrances will be longer than usual.

Drivers are advised to consult motorway operator Autostrade per l’Italia’s traffic map for real-time updates.

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