People sunbathe on the beach in Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, June 8, 2021. Spain is jumpstarting its summer tourism season by welcoming vaccinated visitors from most countries as well as European visitors who can prove they are not infected with coronavirus. AP
European Union (EU) lawmakers on Wednesday gave their seal of approval to a new travel certificate that will allow people to move freely within the bloc without having to quarantine or taking extra coronavirus tests, paving the way for the pass to start in time for summer.
The green light will allow EU citizens to get a digital health pass to display their vaccination status, results of COVID-19 tests, or whether they have recovered from a coronavirus infection.
The free certificate will take the form of a QR code on a smartphone or paper, letting authorities determine the status of a visitor based on records in their home country within the EU.
Several EU countries have already begun using the system, including Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece and Poland.
The certificate will officially come into force on July 1 and will be in place for 12 months. It will not be a precondition for free movement and will not be considered a travel document.
The new regulations governing the vaccine certificate were adopted in two votes at the European Parliament plenary in Strasbourg, France, which reconvened after a 15-month absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar, rapporteur and chair of the European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee, said the vote set the pace to restore free movement and a fully functional Schengen area while countries continue to battle the pandemic.
"The EU Digital COVID Certificate will function from 1 July and will ensure safe and coordinated travel this summer. EU states are encouraged to refrain from imposing further restrictions, unless strictly necessary and proportionate, and it is reassuring that some are already issuing the certificate," he said.