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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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For members

STRIKES

Calendar: The transport strikes to expect in Italy this February

Travellers in Italy will face disruption again this month amid a new round of transport strikes. Here's what you can expect in the coming weeks.

Calendar: The transport strikes to expect in Italy this February

Travel in Italy was disrupted by dozens of localised strikes in January, and this is set to continue into February as Italian unions announced a further round of demonstrations affecting rail and public transport services in many areas, as well as airline travel.

READ ALSO: Should you travel in Italy when there’s a strike on?

Here’s an overview of February’s main strikes, which are again mainly local or regional, but include a national public transport strike on February 17th and a nationwide walkout by airport ground staff on February 28th.

February 5th-6th: Trenitalia staff in the southern Calabria region will strike from 9pm on Sunday, February 5th to 9pm the following day. 

A list of guaranteed services in the region is available here.

February 9th: Staff from Lombardy’s Trenord will take part in a 22-hour strike – from 2am to 11.50pm – on Thursday, February 9th.

It’s currently unclear whether Trenord will operate minimum services on the day. See the company’s website for further information. 

February 12th: Air traffic control staff at Perugia’s San Francesco d’Assisi airport will take part in a 24-hour strike action on Sunday, February 12th. 

It isn’t yet clear how the walkout will affect air travel to and from the airport on the day.

Travellers at an Italian airport

A national strike from ground service staff may cause delays and queues at many Italian airports on Tuesday, February 28th. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

February 12th-13th: Trenitalia staff in Emilia-Romagna will strike from 3.30am on Sunday, February 12th to 2.30am on Monday, February 13th.

A list of guaranteed rail services in the region is available here.

February 17th: Public transport staff will take part in a national 24-hour strike on Friday, February 17th. 

The strike was called in late January by Italian union USB to protest against precarious work contracts and privatisation attempts by the Italian state.

There currently aren’t any details as to what percentage of workers will take part in the action or how widespread the disruption is likely to be.

February 19th: Trenitalia staff in the Veneto region will strike from 9am to 5pm on Sunday, February 19th. 

Guaranteed services are available here.

On the same day, there will be no service between Milan’s Milano Centrale station and Paris’s Gare de Lyon due to a strike from staff at France’s national railway company SNCF.

READ ALSO: Trains and planes: Italy’s new international travel routes in 2023

Empty train platform in Codogno, Lombardy

Staff from Lombardy’s regional railway operator Trenord will strike for 22 hours on Thursday, February 9th. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

February 20th: Trenitalia personnel in Lombardy are expected to strike from 9am to 5pm on Monday, February 20th. 

Guaranteed services haven’t been made available yet. 

February 28th: Baggage handlers and other airport ground service staff will take part in a national 24-hour strike on Tuesday, February 28th. 

It isn’t yet clear how the strike will affect air travel during the day, though a similar demonstration caused significant delays and queues at some Italian airports in late January.

ENAV air traffic operators based in Calabria are also expected to strike on February 28th, with the walkout set to start at 1pm and end at 5pm.

You can keep up to date with the latest strike news from Italy HERE.

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