: Europe moves toward COVID-19 vaccine passports but not every country is on board

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A few European Union countries have taken steps to distribute special passes to allow citizens inoculated against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 to travel freely. Others countries, including the U.K., are considering such a measure.

  • Denmark said on Wednesday it would go ahead and develop by the end of the month a digital COVID passport that would help its citizens travel to countries requiring a vaccination, and also allow them to visit restaurants or attend mass events.
  • Sweden also announced this week that it would launch such a pass in time for the summer season, if some form of international standard is in place by then.
  • According to the Times of London, the U.K.’s Foreign Office and its ministries of transport and health are preparing a certification system that would allow vaccinated U.K. tourists to travel abroad this summer.
  • Other European countries such as France and Germany have voiced their concerns about the so-called vaccine passport, on the grounds that it would mean special treatment for a privileged class of citizens — notably to the detriment of the younger population.
  • Those concerns are likely to be dwarfed by the strong economic and business considerations. Tests are already required for cross-border travel in most of Europe, and vaccination passes would help the airline industry and major tourist destinations like Greece or Italy recover more quickly from the slump.

Read: COVID-19 hotel quarantine from high-risk countries to start in U.K. from Feb. 15

The outlook: The opposition to vaccine passports — or whatever such certificates will be called — comes from countries that have been slow to vaccinate their population, like France. But it is unlikely to matter much: The decision is up to individual member states, and too many European economies depend on the quick resumption of tourism and travel.

As governments go ahead with vaccine passports, the next tourist season in Europe will be marked by the uneven fate of populations stuck within their own countries because of a lack of immunity, compared with those who will be able to resume normal summer activities.

Read: As COVID-19 vaccine doses reach 10 million, U.K. cautiously eyes encouraging pandemic numbers

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