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No Consensus on Vaccine Passports

Throughout a world still bogged down by border restraints, the idea and processing of travel passes for those lucky enough to have been vaccinated against COVID-19 is raging ahead.

Israel’s green passports

In Israel, which leads the world in completed vaccinations (55 per cent), “green passports” have become common currency, and in many cases are mandatory for entry to concerts, restaurants, gyms, hotels, synagogues, businesses, stores, and everyday movement. Those that have them are first in line. Many others have to wait.

To get a pass, you must first of all have been fully vaccinated for at least one week. Then after downloading a specified health department app to your Apple or Android phone, you must update your personal details, including personal ID number or passport number, phone numbers, and birth date, confirm the information is correct and confirm a code sent to your phone. You will then be sent a green passport. A certificate of recovery is given to any person who has recovered from COVID-19 and consequently is not eligible to get the vaccine.

The EU also has hopes… but…

The European Union is also moving ahead with its version of a “green pass” which it hopes might be operable in June. Basically, it would provide proof of full vaccination or a recent negative test. It sees the pass as a way to get Europe (and the full Schengen area) open for the summer holiday period—which in Europe is sacrosanct. The big problem with the EU’s “green pass” effort is its own dismal record of vaccinations. As of April 12, only 6 per cent of EU residents have been fully vaccinated. What do you tell the other 94 per cent who are waiting to travel to Greece for a week or two on a beach in the Aegean?

UK among the top “jabbers”

In the UK, which has been among the leaders in the “jabbing” game, a modified form of green pass is also being considered to ease up the summer travel season. But the Daily Express newspaper reports that fake COVID-19 vaccine passports are being sold online and the UK Border Force has warned that these documents could allow unvaccinated, untested people into the country and send the UK back into lockdown.

Trudeau still cool to vaccine passports

In Canada, Prime Minister Trudeau has remained cool to the prospect of a vaccine passport for anything other than possible travel to a country that has entry requirements for such a document. “The idea of certificates of vaccination for domestic use does bring in questions of equity. There are questions of fairness and justice. There could be discrimination,” he has told the media. And he has also remained quite stalwart about holding the border closed for other-than-essential purposes for the time being, despite entreaties from US legislators from northern states to allow limited cross-border traffic.

US says flatly: No certificate

In the US, the White House has affirmed that “The government is not now, nor will we be, supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential.” It adds: “There will be no federal vaccinations database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential… The administration wants to protect Americans’ privacy and doesn’t want vaccine passports used against people unfairly.”

Taking an even a stronger position, Florida governor Ron DeSantis has issued an executive order banning the use of COVID-19 passports in the state. The order prohibits any government entity from issuing vaccine passports and blocks businesses from requiring any such documentation, citing freedom and privacy concerns and arguing that the implementation and enforcement of vaccine passports would “create two classes of citizens based on vaccinations.”

DeSantis’ edict somewhat contradicts his determination to get cruises moving out of Florida’s ports just as some cruise lines have offered to require cruise passengers to have such vaccine credentials—if only the CDC would withdraw its “no-sail order” in US waters. Cruise line officials believe if there was a reprieve of the no-sail order, DeSantis would find a way around the edict as he is adamant about getting the cruises back out to sea and has even sued the CDC to do so.

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