1. Extension of validity for vaccine certificates
As of 1 February 2022, EU vaccine certificates intended for intra-EU travel will be valid during 9 months, the European Commission announced on 21 December in a press statement. A clear and uniform acceptance period for vaccination certificates is designed to ensure the coordination of travel measures, the EU executive stated, following the European Council’s latest meeting of 16 December.
So far, 807 million certificates were issued in the EU. The EU Digital Covid-19 certificate seems to have set a global standard, with 60 countries and territories across five continents having joined the European system by now.
2. ECDC’s guidance
The Commission’s new validity period takes into account the guidance of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), according to which booster doses are recommended at the latest six months after the completion of the first vaccination cycle. In practice, the certificate will remain valid for a grace period of an additional three months beyond those six months to ensure that national vaccination campaigns can adjust and citizens will have access to booster doses.
The new rules are expected to ensure restrictions are based on the best available scientific evidence as well as objective criteria. Overall, the EU considers that continued coordination is essential for the functioning of the Single Market and it is hoped to provide clarity for its citizens in the exercise of their right to free movement.
“A harmonised validity period for EU Digital Covid-19 Certificate is a necessity for safe free movement and EU level coordination. The strength and success of this invaluable tool for citizens and business lies in its coherent use across the EU”, said the Commission’s President Ursula von der Leyen.
3. Re-Open EU
Also providing more clarity for air passengers, the platform Re-open EU, in place since June 2020, gives the relevant information for safe travelling across all EU Member States and other European countries. In view of the holiday break, the Commission is urging citizens to check the platform for relevant updates to guarantee the safe free movement of people across borders in the EU.
In particular, Re-open EU provides information on the various measures in place, including on quarantine and testing requirements for travellers, the EU Digital Covid-19 certificate, mobile Covid-19 contact tracing and warning apps.
Member States agreed to benefit from Re-open EU and provide the general public with clear, comprehensive and timely information about any restrictions to free movement. Re-Open EU also covers information related to any accompanying requirements as well as the measures applied to citizens travelling from risk areas as early as possible before new measures come into effect.