People at Heathrow airport

People queue to enter terminal 2, as tighter rules for international travellers start, at Heathrow Airport.

26-04-2021Henry Nicholls

Europe plans to launch a digital health pass scheme in June that it hopes will save this summer's holiday season by making it possible for travellers to prove they have been vaccinated against, or tested negative for, COVID-19.

HOW WOULD IT WORK?
The pass, issued by a doctor or health centre, would feature a QR code containing pre-authenticated information that a traveller has been vaccinated against COVID-19 or has received a negative PCR test result.

The QR code, printed out on a piece of paper, would serve as proof of immunity. It would also be possible to scan the code into a smartphone app.

WHO CREATES THE APPS?
The apps are being created by EU member states - France, for example, is already testing its app for airline flights.

In Germany, a team led by IBM is creating one app for users and a second 'checking' app for officials such as airline staff or border guards - a 'green' result means that the health pass is genuine; 'red' means it isn't.

HOW WILL THEY WORK FOR FOREIGN TRAVEL?
The European Commission plans to issue a contract for a central gateway that will make it possible for the various national apps to 'talk' to each other, thus enabling travel between EU countries.

No global standard has yet been agreed, however, meaning that work still needs to be done to deal with overseas visitors.

SOUNDS COMPLICATED - WILL IT WORK?
There are several logistical challenges that still need to be addressed - including how to issue digital health passes to the millions of people in the EU who have already been vaccinated.

One issue still to be resolved is whether antibody tests provide adequate proof that a person who has recovered from COVID-19 is immune, sources say, following cases of reinfection by some variants of the coronavirus.

WHAT ABOUT MY DATA?
Sensitive personal data will typically be stored locally on smartphones in a separate 'wallet', while the EU gateway will only handle the signatures on digital certificates, not the personal data of the holder.

Still, some critics caution that the scheme would be vulnerable to fraud. Others say it would be discriminatory, with only those who can prove that they have been vaccinated enjoying the freedom to travel.

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John Law / Hace 6 months

This is becoming boring now. We can't have tourists here until we're at least 50% vaccinated, through the Green list idea, whatever else may happen, or anyone else might say. Even at that porcentage it's very likely to send the figures up, and lead back to restristions Does anybody here really want to see our new cases skyrocket again dammit ?

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Tom / Hace 6 months

stop thinking only about holidays .... there are way more important things in life, especially if you look at India and what's inevitably coming shortly to the EU and rest of the world. the 4th wave of Corona new variant. Suggest everyone focus on getting vaccinated and preparing for further restrictions than constantly going on and on about holidays as if its a life saving drug to go on holidays... with only 6.6 percent of Mallorca population vaccinated properly holidays and tourists should be the last thing on peoples minds .

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