The European Commission, the governing body of the European Union, announced a proposal Thursday to renew the EU’s COVID-19 Vaccine Passport for another year, even after a number of European countries rescinding their pandemic restrictions.
“Today the European Commission is proposing to extend the EU Digital COVID Certificate by a year, until 30 June 2023,” the Commission wrote on its website. “The COVID-19 virus continues to be prevalent in Europe and at this stage it is not possible to determine the impact of a possible increase in infections in the second half of 2022 or of the emergence of new variants. Extending the Regulation will ensure that travellers can continue using their EU Digital COVID Certificate when travelling in the EU where Member States maintain certain public health measures. The Commission is adopting the proposal today to make sure the European Parliament and the Council can conclude the legislative procedure in time before the current Regulation expires.”
In addition, the Commission proposed several limited amendments to the passport initiative, which consists of a free mobile app used to prove that a traveler has been vaccinated for COVID-19, has received a negative COVID-19 test, or has been recently diagnosed with and recovered from the virus. The amendments include:
- Expanding the types of tests for which a test certificate can be issued, to include “high-quality laboratory-based antigen tests”;
- Ensuring that vaccination records include the correct number of doses required to be considered fully-vaccinated in any member nation;
- Providing that vaccine certificates be issued to anyone taking part in a clinical trial for a COVID-19 vaccine.
The Commission also acknowledged that the use of the COVID Digital Certificate is up to the individuals to decide. “The domestic use of EU Digital COVID Certificates remains a matter for Member States to decide. The EU legislation on the EU Digital COVID Certificate neither prescribes nor prohibits the domestic use of EU Digital COVID Certificate (such as for access to events or restaurants),” the Commission said. “At the same time, where a Member State establishes a system of COVID-19 certificate for domestic purposes, it should continue to ensure that the EU Digital COVID Certificate is also fully accepted for those purposes. Beyond that, the Commission also encourages Member States to align their domestic validity periods with the validity period set at EU level for the purpose of travel.”
The Commission’s move comes even as multiple member nations have begun to lift their COVID-19 restrictions. The Daily Wire reported last week that Denmark would rescind nearly all of its COVID-19 restrictions beginning February 1. “We say goodbye to the restrictions and welcome the life we knew before,” Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said. “As of Feb. 1, Denmark will be open.”
Other member nations are moving to ease pandemic restrictions. Bloomberg reported Wednesday that Switzerland is considering lifting nearly all of its restrictions, including its vaccine passport and mask mandate, later this month. The country also lifted its work-from-home and quarantine requirements as of Thursday. France has also eased its restrictions, and Health Minister Olivier Veran said that the country’s vaccine pass “will come to an end, and judging by current trends, it is likely that the end will come before the month of July.” Sweden, Italy, and the United Kingdom have also lifted some restrictions.