Greece unveils health pass to hasten EU travel revival

By: AFP      Published: 07:24 PM, 28 May, 2021
Greece unveils health pass to hasten EU travel revival

Greece on Friday unveiled its digital health certificate aimed at rebooting the country's coronavirus-hit tourism sector and part of a wider EU scheme to reopen national borders.

The certificate will be open to all EU citizens from July 1 at the latest, though Greece will try to start the programme sooner than that, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.

Eagerly awaited by Europe's tourism-dependent countries, the certificate was agreed and rolled out at a record pace in just two months, said EU Vice-President Margaritis Schinas -- himself a Greek politician.

The certificate was "an example that shows how Europe can act when solidarity meets determination", he said during the announcement in Athens, adding that Greece was among the first countries in Europe to launch the health pass.

It was designed to meet EU standards on privacy and security, "so Europeans can use it without fear", he said.

Together with European Council President Charles Michel, Schinas was in Athens to mark the 40th anniversary of Greece's entry into the European community. 

Last week, the European Parliament and EU member states endorsed the certificate, with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen saying it would be "a key element on the way to resuming safe and easy travel across the EU".

The certificate contains a QR code indicating that its holder has been vaccinated, has tested negative for the coronavirus or has immunity after being infected. 

The EU agreement will prevent member states imposing additional travel restrictions, such as tests or quarantine, unless they are "necessary and proportionate" to protect public health

"This is particularly important for Greece as a tourist country, but also important for every EU state because what we want to do is to restore freedom of movement," Mitsotakis said.