Tech & Rights

COVID-19 Pass Tracker: Monitoring Vaccine-, Immunity- And Test-Certificates In The EU

In this tracker, the Civil Liberties Union for Europe (Liberties) collects the most important developments around COVID passes as they emerge, with a special emphasis on those that Liberties as a human rights watchdog finds potentially concerning.

by LibertiesEU

The EU Digital COVID Certificate Regulation entered into application on 1 July 2021. National authorities are in charge of issuing the certificate to their citizens and residents. According to the European Commission, when travelling, the EU Digital COVID Certificate holder should in principle be exempted from free movement restrictions -- unless those restrictions are necessary and proportionate to safeguard public health.

The EU Digital COVID Certificates are primarily meant to facilitate cross-border travels, but in some countries they will also be used domestically. In addition, some EU countries keep using their own COVID passes launched earlier this year for domestic purposes parallel to the EU Digital COVID Certificates. You can find up-to-date information on travel restrictions and other COVID-related measures here.

Stay in the loop.

Should you have read about a development the European public needs to be informed about, but you do not see it below, please send an email with the relevant link to Liberties’ advocacy and research assistant, Alice Norga.

Austria | Belgium | Bulgaria | Croatia | Cyprus | Czechia | Denmark | Estonia | Finland | France | Germany

Greece | Hungary | Ireland | Italy | Latvia | Lithuania | Luxembourg | Malta | Netherlands | Poland | Portugal

Romania | Slovakia | Slovenia | Spain | Sweden | Europe

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Austria

20 June 2021: The Austrian authorities announced that the COVID-19 Passport is fully operational and ready to be issued to citizens.

Belgium

16 June 2021: The EU Digital COVID Certificate became available in Belgium. Information on how to obtain the certificate can be found here.

Bulgaria

1 June 2021: Started issuing EU Digital COVID Certificates.

Croatia

1 June 2021: Started issuing EU Digital COVID Certificates.

Cyprus

9 July 2021: Passing of “Safe Pass” policy whereby citizens aged 12 or older are obliged to possess and present either a vaccination certificate with at least one dose — including completion of a three-week post-vaccination period — or proof that a person has contracted COVID-19 in the last 6 months, or a negative PCR or rapid test with a 72-hour validity period. The SafePass must be presented by employees and customers entering an establishment, be it their workplace, a restaurant or bar. In addition, the provision of free rapid antigen tests will be abolished as of 1 August 2021 in an effort to exert pressure on unvaccinated citizens either to get vaccinated or pay for a PCR or rapid test every 72 hours.

1 July 2021: Official launch of the EU Digital COVID Certificate.

Czechia

7 July 2021: An estimated 400 protestors gathered in Prague to protest against COVID-related measures and certificates. The crowd watched a live screening of the Chamber of Deputies, as it voted on an amendment to the Public Health Protection Act. The amendment deals with COVID travel passes, bringing the country in line with EU regulations that would allow for easier travel between member states. The crowd voiced their dissent as Minister of Health Adam Vojtěch spoke in front of the Chamber in favour of the amendment, which legally authorises the issuance of COVID certificates.

1 June 2021: Started issuing EU Digital COVID Certificates.

Denmark

1 June 2021: Started issuing EU Digital COVID Certificates.

Estonia

10 June 2021: Launched the EU Digital COVID Certificate. Information on how to obtain the certificates can be found here.

Finland

22 June 2021: Launched the EU Digital COVID Certificate.

France

20 July 2021: The French government has been forced to row back on some restrictions following a pushback from industries and street protests. Among the new rules, French President Emmanuel Macron sought to turbo-drive vaccinations by making a COVID green pass necessary to enter cafés, restaurants and a range of other venues this summer. As a result of the outcry, the government made several concessions, including lowering fines for noncompliance, pushing back deadlines and changing the rules for shopping centers. Back in April, French President Emmanuel Macron pledged inan interview with the regional press that "the health pass will never be a right of access that discriminates among the French. It cannot be made compulsory for access to everyday places."

18 July 2021: France will require a coronavirus test (PCR or antigen) of a maximum of 24 hours to unvaccinated travellers from Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Greece and Cyprus, compared to the current 72 hours.

16 July 2021: France prepares to introduce COVID-19 “health pass” for access to cultural venues. According to France24, starting 21 July 21 2021 the “pass sanitaire” will be “compulsory for access to leisure and cultural venues with more than 50 people, including cinemas and museums. From the beginning of August, it will be necessary to show your health pass to have coffee or eat lunch at a restaurant – even on an outdoor terrace – or to shop at a mall.”

1 July 2021: EU Digital COVID Certificate fully launched.

23 June 2021: France’s COVID-19 vaccination and test certificates are updated from 23 June to align the document with the EU verification system. People whose vaccination certificate has been issued by the French government need to get their document updated in order to be allowed to travel to other EU Member States in July. Information on how to update the French certificates can be found here.

Germany

23 July 2021: COVID-19: German pharmacies have stopped giving COVID vaccination status after hackers created fake passes after making up pharmacy owner identities.

29 June 2021: Germany has put henry restrictions for travellers from Portugal after categorising the country as a Delta variant area. The EU commission does not support Germany’s restrictions on Portuguese travellers, insisting they are “not fully aligned” with the recommendation of the 27 of the Council of the EU, which intends to ease travelling restrictions throughout Europe this summer. On 7 July 2021, Germany eased the restrictions after putting the country to the category of “high-incidence areas” instead of the most serious “virus variant areas”.

16 June 2021: German health authorities announced that the country has issued around five million vaccination passports as a part of the European Union’s Digital COVID Certificate system.

14 June 2021: Anyone who was vaccinated against the coronavirus is able to get a digital vaccination pass. Pharmacies issue the vaccination certificate to those who are already vaccinated. These certificates can be stored in the CovPass app or in the Corona Warn-App.

1 June 2021: Germany connected to the gateway and started issuing EU Digital COVID Certificates.

Greece

13 July 2021: The government announced that Greece will require customers at indoor restaurants, bars and cafes to prove they have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Under the new regulations, which will remain in force until August, all customers at indoor restaurants will have to be seated. Those dining outdoors will not require proof of vaccination or a test. As Reuters reports, the “government-launched application, COVID FREE GR, which can scan European digital vaccination certificates and test results, will be available to businesses. (...) Public and private sector employers will also have the right to ask employees whether they have been inoculated.”

29 June 2021: Greek government announced that from 15 July 2021, venues that allow only those who are fully vaccinated or have immunity (due to having had the virus in the last six months) to enter, will be permitted to operate at 85% capacity. Mixed areas (where recent negative test certificate holders can enter too) will be permitted to operate at 75% or lower.

1 June 2021: Started issuing EU Digital COVID Certificates.

Hungary

16 July 2021: Atlatszo.hu’s freedom of information request asking for the contract about the production of immunity cards was denied under the pretense that it contained ‘technical information.’ The investigative journal intends to turn to the courts.

5 July 2021: According to social media reports, foreign citizens holding EU Digital COVID Certificates and travelling as tourists are still denied boarding at airports.

1 July 2021: According to Government ordinance 366/2021, Hungary is supposed to allow entry to holders of the EU Digital COVID Certificates. EU Digital COVID Certificates will operate alongside Hungary’s own immunity pass scheme (see below).

30 June 2021: Hungary was expected to introduce the EU Digital COVID Certificates.

16 June 2021: Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) filed a complaint to the data protection authority NAIH in connection with Hungary’s own immunity pass scheme. According to the complaint, the immunity pass unlawfully contains unnecessary data, and the data stored by the app is not adequately protected from misuse.

1 May 2021: Hungary introduced immunity cards, which attest that their bearers have received at least one vaccine dose or recovered from COVID-19, allowing holders to regain many aspects of pre-pandemic life. In a statement, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union argued that attaching certain rights to these cards discriminates against those who “due to their state of health, cannot be vaccinated temporarily or permanently," such as women in certain stages of pregnancy, or those with chronic conditions that make vaccination inadvisable.

Ireland

19 July 2021: Ireland is expected to accept vaccination and immunity EU Digital COVID Certificates. Those whose EU Digital COVID Certificate shows non-PCR test results only will not be able to enter the country.

Early July 2021: The Irish government is pushing through legislation enforcing a vaccine pass system to access indoor dining at pubs and restaurants. The draft law aims at ensuring that only people who are vaccinated against or recovered from COVID-19 will be allowed at these indoor settings. Negative test holders may also be allowed to enter at a later date, but there surely will be a time when they will not be. Liberties’ Irish member, ICCL, has spoken out against this in the media. Also see here.

Italy

22 July 2021: Health Minister Roberto Speranza announced that Italy's government will make a so-called coronavirus green pass necessary to eat and drink inside a restaurant or bar. Prime Minister Mario Draghi cited the growth in cases as the reason for the new measures.The green pass will be required in sport matches, museums, gyms and other similar venues. Outside dining is exempt, as is eating or drinking at the counter. After disagreements within the governing coalition, the pass will not be needed for transport.

3 July 2021: Italian police said they disbanded a number of online schemes offering to sell fake European Union digital COVID-19 status certificates or purported coronavirus vaccines. The investigation, coordinated by the cybercrime prosecutor’s office in Milan, showed that thousands of people were ready to pay for false certificates.

28 June 2021: All vaccination certificates are to be made available by this date.

17 June 2021: Italy launched the EU Digital COVID Certificate scheme.

15 June 2021: Italy was to start issuing and accepting the EU Digital COVID Certificate.

Latvia

1 June 2021: Launch of EU Digital COVID Certificate.

Lithuania

22 June 2021: Launch of EU Digital COVID Certificate.

Luxembourg

1 July 2021: Launch of EU Digital COVID Certificate.

Malta

From 14 July 2021: Malta intends to admit to its territory only people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This means that negative PCR test result holders will not be able to enter the territory of Malta. The European Commission asked Malta for clarification, but it has already assessed that this will be discrimination.

1 July 2021: Launch of EU Digital COVID Certificate.

Netherlands

1 July 2021: The Netherlands introduces the EU Digital COVID Certificate.

Poland

1 June 2021: Started issuing EU Digital COVID Certificates.

Portugal

22 June 2021: Started issuing EU Digital COVID Certificates.

Romania

1 July 2021: Romania will start issuing EU Digital COVID Certificates.

Slovakia

15 June 2021: Started issuing EU Digital COVID Certificates.

Slovenia

15 July 2021: Significantly tighter rules for entering Slovenia took effect, as the colour-coded list of countries was replaced with the requirement that passengers who wish to enter the country need to have a COVID-19 certificate regardless of where they come from. The certificate will have to prove that passengers have had a negative PCR test within the last 72 hours, a negative rapid antigen within the last 48 hours, a certificate of vaccination or proof that they have recovered from the virus. The EU’s green digital certificate and equivalent certificates of third countries are acceptable.

1 July 2021: Digital coronavirus certificates are to be obtained at vaccination and testing points around the country. Information on how to obtain certificates can be found here.

30 June 2021: Those who have been vaccinated with both jabs, or with one in case of the single-dose vaccines, were supposed to receive their vaccination certificates to their home address by 30 June. A few days later, those who have already recovered from COVID-19 and those vaccinated with only one jab were also supposed to receive it.

24 June 2021: Slovenia test-introduced the EU Digital COVID Certificate. Janez Poklukar, the Minister of Health, told the press that in the coming days, police would start using special devices to check the certificates on the border.

Spain

7 June 2021: Started issuing EU Digital COVID Certificates.

Sweden

1 July 2021: Launch of EU Digital COVID Certificate.

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Europe

7 July 2021: “I think the Commission has delivered, parliament has delivered […] and the member states went their own way,” Dutch MEP and Renew Europe group member, Sophie in ‘t Veld told the plenary session. The “ink hadn’t dried on the common approach and the member states went their own way again. And now again, we are dealing with a spaghetti of national rules,” she added. Lawmakers bemoaned a lack of clear information. Dutch MEP Tineke Strik said that “not only do member states make up their own rules but there’s also a huge lack of clear information. Citizens are totally confused and uncertain.”

1 July - 12 August: Phase-in period - if a Member State is not yet ready to issue the new certificate to its citizens, other formats can still be used and should be accepted in other Member States.

1 July 2021: Euractiv reports that the Delta variant is threatening to curtail the use of the EU-wide COVID-19 certificate. A surge in the Delta variant could trigger an “emergency brake” provision suspending its acceptance.

1 July 2021: The EU Digital COVID Certificate enters into force throughout the EU.

24 June 2021: Norway joined the European Union’s gateway for the issuance and verification of the EU COVID-19 Vaccination Passport for those who have been vaccinated against the Coronavirus, those who have recovered in the last six months, and those who test negative before their trip. There are a few other non-EU countries that have also joined the scheme.

1 - 30 June 2021: Warm-up phase - Member States can launch the certificate on a voluntary basis provided they are ready to issue and verify certificates, and have the necessary legal base in place.

14 June 2021: EU Presidents officially sign regulation on EU vaccine passports for travel.

9 June 2021: Over one million EU citizens have obtained their COVID vaccination passports.

1 June 2021: EU Gateway (interconnection of national systems) goes live.

Information Hub

COVID-19 Contact Tracing Apps in the EU

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