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Thursday, February 25, 2021

Explained: The ‘vaccine passport’ that Denmark is going to launch

Denmark, along with countries in northern Europe, has in recent years pushed for paperless communications in both the public and private sectors.

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: February 7, 2021 11:34:17 am
Passengers wearing face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus arrive at the departure hall of the Beijing Capital International Airport to catch their flights in Beijing. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

In an effort to reduce curbs on travel and public life, Denmark Wednesday said it is in the process of rolling out a digital passport that would show if holders have been vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Morten Boedskov, Denmark’s finance minister, said in a news conference, “This is about us, as a country, exploiting the technical advantages we have. We can be amongst the first in the world to have this and show it to the rest of the world”.

How will Denmark’s ‘vaccine passport’ work?

The first step will be completed by the end of February, when Danish citizens who have been vaccinated will be able to see a record on a government health website. After another three or four months, the digital passport and an app will be launched. Boedskov said it will function as an “extra passport” that people can carry on their mobile devices.

Currently, Denmark is under a lockdown. Non-essential retail is closed, and bars and restaurants are only permitted takeaway orders.

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The Danish government presented the plan along with representatives of major industry groups and trade associations, who have clamoured for the adoption of easily accessible vaccination proofs. Boedskov said, “It is absolutely crucial for us to be able to restart Danish society so that companies can get back on track. Many Danish companies are global companies with the whole world as a market”.

Denmark, along with countries in northern Europe, has in recent years pushed for paperless communications in both the public and private sectors. The corona passport is considered a part of its effort to reduce bureaucracy by using electronic verification.

The government said it will take a decision at a later date whether the digital passport would be used for purposes other than travel, such as access to restaurants, music festivals and sports events.

What are European countries doing to open up travel?

Last summer, Europe’s tourism sector was severely impacted because of the pandemic. So, the EU has been under pressure this year to evolve mechanisms to safely restart travel.

The EU has been considering the use of vaccination certificates, but has so far said such certificates would only be used for medical reasons.

Estonia, an EU member, said on Tuesday it would permit those travelling to the country to skip quarantine requirements if they are able to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination. Estonia requires that such a certificate ought to display details such as which vaccine was administered, who issued it, and its batch number, an Associated Press report said.

Last year, the World Health Organisation had also said it was working on an e-vaccination certificate. Its “smart yellow card” would be a digitised version of the yellow vaccination booklets used in many countries, as per a Reuters report.

The Australian airline Qantas has also said that in the future, it would insist that passengers get inoculated for Covid-19 before they fly.

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