Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis reiterated his idea for an EU-wide Covid-19 vaccination certificate that will help restore safe travel that has been devastated by the pandemic.
Presenting the idea in an opinion piece published in Euractiv, Mitsotakis stressed that the idea is to create a “fast travel lane” that would revive tourism and recreation, and allow citizens to move freely and without restrictions from country to country.
“Now that the end may just about be in sight, with the gradual rolling out of mass vaccination across all EU countries, we must not take that sacrifice for granted,” he said.
“We owe it to our citizens to pull every available lever and utilise every tool in our political and governmental arsenal so that we have everything in place to expedite a return to normal life within 2021,” adding that the EU can no longer afford to “jeopardize jobs or lose one more year attempting to kick-start our economies.”
In this direction he recommends the vaccination certificate, because “we need to prepare ourselves for the summer when a much larger number of people will have been vaccinated.”
According to Mitsotakis, the digitally verifiable and encrypted document is bilingual and includes the individual’s name, social security number, vaccine type and date and venue of the doses administered.
“People will rightly ask if this could lead to some kind of curtailment of freedom to travel? No, it will not. We should not confuse a vaccination certificate with a travel passport. Our aim is not to divide Europeans into two categories, those who are vaccinated and those who aren’t. Instead we want to create a ‘fast travel lane’ for those with a digitally standardized certificate.”
The Greek PM said people who aren’t vaccinated should still be allowed to travel under existing health rules, such as obligatory PCR testing before travel, rapid tests upon arrival and quarantines where appropriate.
In conclusion, Mitsotakis reiterated that Greece will not require travellers to present the document or be vaccinated. “I accept that many citizens who are not in vulnerable categories will remain unvaccinated for some time yet. Which is why we will continue to utilize our world-class smart testing system at airports”.
“It is not about restricting people’s ability to travel. Rather it is about opening up the freedom of movement using a simple, certain, and secure digital solution that can get our economies moving again. It’s exactly the kind of collaborative project that the EU was set up to deliver. Together we can do it,” he said.