Austria plans to go ahead with a Green Pass allowing those with a coronavirus vaccination to travel from as early as April – ahead of the proposal for June announced by the EU on Wednesday.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told reporters after a cabinet meeting that they did not want to wait.
“We don’t want to wait for implementation by the EU rather we will take first steps on a national level. The health minister will give a news conference tomorrow outlining the necessary legal basis to introduce the Green Pass in Austria as early as April. This will a valuable template for the pan-European introduction,” he said.
“As of the moment that those over 65 who want to be, are vaccinated, so we will be able to significantly loosen restrictions, as it is particularly the elderly who experience serious effects of the virus. In this light we want to focus now on getting systems into place that will allow as much freedom as possible in time for summer. Today the council of ministers agreed on the Green Pass, that is now being moved forward on a European level. This is something that allows people who are either vaccinated, recovered or tested to live completely freely again.”
The sluggish inoculation campaign in some countries threatens plans announced by the Commission to launch “green digital certificate” that would collate information on vaccinations, tests and COVID recovery to let travellers cross borders freely again.
Southern EU countries reliant on tourism and other proponents of the new COVID-19 certificate hope it would win final approvals in June and go online just in time for the peak season. But countries including France, Belgium and Germany have voiced scepticism.
EU countries will be under pressure to agree a common position swiftly for their 450 million people. The task is further complicated by uncertainty over whether those inoculated can transmit the virus, and public scepticism about vaccines.