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Ministers in Muddle Over Vaccination Certificates

Ministers in Muddle Over Vaccination Certificates

Confusion has broken out over the acceptance of paper vaccination certificates in the EU this summer, with the Greek tourism minister saying they would and the Portuguese tourism minister saying they wouldn’t as they can be easily forged. Meanwhile, the UK says it’s discussing vaccine passports with the EU, who deny any discussions are taking place.

In an article published today, April 27, The Times quoted Greek tourism minister Harry Theoharis as saying that border authorities would recognise paper proof of vaccinations. He was speaking at the World Travel and Tourism summit in Cancun, Mexico, where he added that random spot testing would take place on arrivals, and that measures would be beefed up if there was a spike in cases.

Speaking at the same conference, however, the Portuguese tourism minister Rita Marques said that Portugal would not accept paper proof: “As you can imagine, a piece of paper with some handwriting is not considered to be as secure as we would like,” the Times quoted her as saying.

“It is very important that we avoid fraud and an integrated digital pass is the way forward, with a QR code. We are working with the European Commission to have in place a system that will allow us to welcome holidaymakers safely.”

To add to the confusion, Assistant Travel Editor with The Times Ben Clatworthy tweeted this morning that the Greek ministry was now denying the story that it would accept paper proof of vaccinations.

UK visitors are very much in demand in Greece and Portugal, but following the UK’s exit from the EU they will not be part of the rollout of the Digital Green Certificate, which was approved by the European Commission and will be officially introduced at the beginning of June; member states, including Greece and Portugal, will be then given six weeks to put them into operation.

However, the UK’s tourism minister Nigel Huddleston said that Britain was in close talks with the EU on the development of vaccine passports for travel, but the European Commission has denied that such talks were taking place but reiterated that it would be open to such discussions.

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Fionn Davenport is the editor-in-chief of the ITTN group, including ITTN and ITTN Ireland. He's one of Ireland's best-known travel journalists and writers, with nearly 30 years' experience writing guidebooks for Lonely Planet and others.

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