EU announces digital green passports
Today the European Commission has proposed creating a Digital Green Certificate to facilitate safe free movement inside the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Digital Green Certificate will be proof that a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result or recovered from COVID-19. It will be available, free of charge, in digital or paper format. It will include a QR code to ensure the security and authenticity of the certificate. The Commission will build a gateway to ensure all certificates can be verified across the EU, and support Member States in the technical implementation of certificates. Member States remain responsible to decide which public health restrictions can be waived for travellers, but will have to apply waivers in the same way to travellers holding a Digital Green Certificate.
Vice-President for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová said: “The Digital Green Certificate offers an EU-wide solution to ensure that EU citizens benefit from a harmonised digital tool to support free movement in the EU. This is a good message in support of recovery. Our key objectives are to offer an easy to use, non-discriminatory and secure tool that fully respects data protection. And we continue working towards international convergence with other partners.”
Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, said: “With the Digital Green Certificate, we are taking a European approach to ensure EU citizens and their family members can travel safely and with minimum restrictions this summer. The Digital Green Certificate will not be a pre-condition to free movement and it will not discriminate in any way. A common EU-approach will not only help us to gradually restore free movement within the EU and avoid fragmentation. It is also a chance to influence global standards and lead by example based on our European values like data protection.”
One of the key elements of the regulation proposed by the Commission today was the fact that being vaccinated will not be a pre-condition to travel in the EU. All EU citizens have a fundamental right to free movement in the EU and this applies regardless of whether they are vaccinated or not.
Where Member States accept proof of vaccination to waive certain public health restrictions such as testing or quarantine, they would be required to accept, under the same conditions, vaccination certificates issued under the Digital Green Certificate system. This obligation would be limited to vaccines that have received EU-wide marketing authorisation, but Member States can decide to accept other vaccines in addition.
The Digital Green Certificate will be valid in all EU Member States and open for Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway as well as Switzerland. The Digital Green Certificate should be issued to EU citizens and their family members, regardless of their nationality. It should also be issued to non-EU nationals who reside in the EU and to visitors who have the right to travel to other Member States. It is not clear what this will mean exactly for UK visitors directly entering the EU as a tourist but the statement says that the green passport will be compatible with other many other similar systems.
The Digital Green Certificate system is a temporary measure. It will be suspended once the World Health Organization (WHO) declares the end of the COVID-19 international health emergency. To be ready before the summer, this proposal needs a swift adoption by the European Parliament and the Council. The aim is to have the technical work and the proposal completed in the coming months.
Hopefully, this will spur the UK on to get its own travel health passport quickly. If we are going to start travel again, we will need a way to prove our vaccination status for many countries.
Qatar announces Diptyque products onboard and for lounges
Qatar Airways has introduced a new line of luxurious toiletries for premium passengers. Created by the perfume house Diptyque, the new range of toiletries will adorn the First and Business Class washrooms on board the aircraft and at the airline’s premium lounges around the world. Previously they were using Rituals on board in the toilets which I don’t mind but Diptyque is definitely a step up from Rituals in terms of quality (and price!). Sadly due to Qatar being on the red list, it will be a while before we will be able to fly on Qatar unless you fancy 10 days hotel quarantine!
Qatar Airways is excited to be the first airline to launch the range of Diptyque toiletries with worldwide exclusivity. The new collection includes a velvet hand lotion with scents of sweet almond and petitgrain, hand wash with notes of lavender, rosemary, and a hint of ylang ylang, infused facial water with floral notes of rose, virginia cedar and lemon petitgrain, and essential face cream with a heart of roses, voluptuous notes of prickly pear and the freshness of lemon petitgrain. Shower gel, shampoo, conditioner and body lotion complete the range of products offered to customers at the airline’s premium lounges at Hamad International Airport (HIA) and other key airport hubs.
Qatar Airways Head of Product Development and Service Design, Genevieve Rosario, said: “We are so excited to be introducing our premium passengers to a new and exclusive range of diptyque toiletries that we hope will become a part of their lifestyles. The lavish and exquisite toiletries are designed to further enhance the customer experience, surrounding our customers in comforting essences and fragrances that will take them on a sensory journey to create travel memories with Qatar Airways. We are proud to be offering world-class products from brands such as diptyque that have a lasting impact on our passengers.”
Founded in 1961, the Diptyque story began in Paris, with three friends propelled by the same creative passion and unique taste. With more than 70 standalone boutiques and 700 wholesalers, the brand boasts its strong presence across the globe.
This collection from Qatar Airways and Diptyque is just the start of a longer-term partnership that the two brands hope to elevate with more collaborations in the months to come. I wonder if this could mean a change to the toiletries in the amenity kits?
Iceland open to UK vaccinated visitors
I previously wrote about Iceland opening to vaccinated and immune visitors from other countries without quarantine. Today they have announced that they will now allow fully vaccinated visitors from the UK. This is a trend that we will see a lot more of over coming months as the UK cases decline and its population become vaccinated. From being a Covid pariah due to high cases and the UK variant, we will be likely to be welcomed in many countries providing we keep our case numbers down as restrictions ease. It is not fully clear what the rules for non-vaccinated and immune tourists are for the UK, but it looks like if we are regarded as low risk, we may only have to present a certificate of a negative test. (see last paragraph).
Iceland will open its borders to vaccinated foreigners from outside the EU tomorrow, Thursday 18 March, making them one of the first countries in the world to reopen to tourists after coronavirus.
“The world has been through a lot in the past 12 months, and we are all hoping for a slow and safe return to normalcy. This also includes the resumption of the opportunity to travel, which is valuable to culture, trade and enterprise,” said Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir.
You will have to show proof of full vaccination approved by the European Medicines Agency.
There was an interesting statement from their chief epidemiologist Thorolfur Gudnason given our governments own’s stance of making all international travel illegal until 17 May at the earliest. “When people are protected against the same disease, with the same vaccines that are produced by the same companies, there is no medical reason to discriminate on the basis of the location where the jab is administered. Our experience shows that the risk of infection from vaccinated individuals is very small or negligible.”
Iceland is also changing its quarantine system for travellers from 1 May. Those arriving from countries judged low risk by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control will be exempt if you present a negative test result.