UK Medic: Covid Passports ‘Unavoidable’ as Nations Introduce Quarantine-Free Arrivals for Vaccinated Flyers

A medic collects a swab sample from a traveller at a booth at the COVID-19 coronavirus rapid testing centre in Israel's Ben-Gurion Airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv, on January 19, 2021. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP) (Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)
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A “leading travel health expert” has said coronavirus vaccine passports are now “ultimately unavoidable”, as Britain and the EU examine plans, and some nations open their borders to vaccinated travellers.

Proving to airlines or foreign governments that you have received a coronavirus vaccination will become a standard part of travel, said London doctor Dr Richard Dawood. The medic, cited by the Daily Telegraph as a “leading travel health expert”, made a nod to some public unease over making healthcare paperwork a requirement to lead an ordinary life, but nevertheless remarked: “Regardless of how any of us feel about the idea of ‘vaccine passports’ for travel, they will ultimately be unavoidable.”

Dr Dawood said in remarks to the newspaper:

Once countries begin insisting on proof of Covid immunity from arriving travellers, there will be little option but to embrace the challenge.

We all long for travel to return to normal. But entry requirements will remain as long as countries feel insecure, perhaps until most people have been vaccinated worldwide. Social distancing, sanitisers, face masks on flights, delays, red tape, and last-minute changes of plan, will stay a fact of travel until then.

The comments come as vaccination papers for travel, and even so-called coronavirus passports, become a reality across Europe. The European Union itself is set to recognise standardised vaccination passports. Margaritis Schinas, the European Commission’s vice-president, remarked this week: “We feel that now this is the time for these vaccine certificates to be recognised across the European Union, and even beyond the European Union.”

Several European nations are working on vaccination paperwork to open up avenues towards pre-lockdown life, including Spain and the United Kingdom. While the UK has denied it is planning to deploy coronavirus papers, it has awarded contracts to tech firms to build prototypes for the system.

Other European states have acted unilaterally to give beneficial treatment to those who can prove they have been vaccinated. Cyprus and Romania require new arrivals from overseas to go into self-isolation for weeks upon landing in the country, but both have now said they will waive the vaccination requirement.

Romania’s government signed an order for the new plan last week, noting that the country will require travellers to prove they have received two doses of a vaccine at least ten days prior to travel, and if the paperwork is in order, they would not need to self-isolate.

The Romanian rules also offer another route to quarantine-free travel. As well as vaccination, the government has announced that anyone who can prove they have had coronavirus and recovered within the past three months can also enter the country without self-isolation, the British Embassy in Bucharest said, suggesting Romania has determined that having coronavirus imparts a level of immunity.

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