After the Belgian government released the COVID-10 vaccination passport to its citizens on Wednesday, consumer organization Test-Achats criticized member states’ lack of uniformity in creating the document, calling it a “missed opportunity,” TheSchengen.com reports.
Covidsafe, the Belgian version of the European COVID-19 vaccination passport, is also designed to serve as proof that the holder has been fully vaccinated, tested negative or recently recovered from COVID-19 Facilitating travel across the European Union similar to a pre-existing situation the pandemic.
However, Test-Achats considers it to be a “complex tool” rather than a facilitation tool.
According to Simon November, spokesperson for Test Achats, Covidsafe was intended to be an effective and useful tool for citizens, a message that was well received by the European Commission and the European Parliament.
“However, member states have given themselves a lot of leeway on certain points, such as whether or not to accept antigen tests, the age to be certified from, and the different validity periods of PCR tests or post-vaccination periods,” November added.
With the aim of making travel easier and safer, the document should also restore the tourism sector, which has been hit hard by the pandemic. But, November claims, all these different rules make it a complex tool.
“If we take for example a family of two parents who have been vaccinated with two children aged 2 and 4, we can say that the goal has been achieved. From July 1, they will be able to travel anywhere in the European Union without any problems.
But the situation takes a less favorable turn when only one of the parents is vaccinated, and the children are seven and ten years old. A parent who has been vaccinated will be able to travel by presenting their vaccination certificate. For other family members, different rules will apply, depending on the destination.
While some countries will accept rapid antigen tests, others will only accept a PCR test that is taken less than 72 hours before arrival, and some only allow travelers who submit a negative PCR test taken within the past 48 hours.
On the other hand, to enter some countries, proof of complete vaccination is required at least two weeks before departure, while in some other countries, four weeks are required before the holder can travel there.
“If the family travels through several countries in the European Union, the rules of all countries will have to be checked on the road,” Test Akats added.
However, the organization is calling on member states to agree on uniform rules before July 1 in order to prevent missing an opportunity for an easier and safer travel experience.
The country launched the European COVID-19 vaccination passport this week as part of an initiative to facilitate travel and revive tourism. All vaccinated travelers who have recently tested positive for coronavirus and who have recovered from the disease are entitled to the document.
Although Belgium announced the release of COVID-19 passports by the beginning of July, as the Council of the European Union initially planned, the country joined the list of several other European countries, which released the document two weeks before the deadline.