EU vaccine passports will be 'valid for 9 months' after first dose
European “vaccine passports” will now be valid for nine months after the holder's first dose, according to Reuters.
The European Commission ratified the new rules as European countries tighten controls on travelers in a bid to reduce the spread of the omicron coronavirus variant over the busy winter holiday period.
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From Feb. 1, 27 EU states will be obliged to let fully vaccinated travelers across their borders without having to provide a negative test, so long as they have a valid European Union COVID-19 certificate.
Currently, seven European nations (Italy, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Latvia, Cyprus and Austria) demand that all visitors provide a negative COVID-19 test, whether they are fully vaccinated or not.
The regulations do leave wiggle room for exceptions, though, justified by a deteriorating situation. These could include the reintroduction of negative tests and quarantines, but governments will have to prove such measures are proportionate.
"We prefer to use for the free movement in Europe only the certificate without additional measures," EU justice commissioner Didier Reynders told Reuters.
Related: Which European countries have COVID-19 restrictions in place this Christmas?
The nine-month expiration window applies only to travel, however. Governments will have the option of extending the duration of COVID-19 passes for events held inside their own countries.
It is also likely the window will be widened indefinitely for people who have had their booster, though the Commission said it is still too early to say for how long a third dose provides immunity.