Green passport for Austria and 12 other EU countries
Austria and twelve other EU countries have agreed on seven criteria for the creation of a “Green Passport” for tourism after meeting two weeks ago at the invitation of Austria’s Tourism Minister Elisabeth Köstinger.
The aim is to implement the “Green Pass” quickly and as uniformly as possible at European level, with a deadline of 1st June.
The twelve other countries beside Austria involved in the scheme are Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain.
Speaking to the Ö1 Morgen Journal this morning, Köstinger said as Austria was a country dependent on tourism, open borders were important.
She said the new digital certificate would allow holders to scan a QR code which would determine if they were vaccinated, had recovered from coronavirus or had tested negative for the disease, and this would be valid in European hotels and airports.
No centralised database
Although this is a European scheme, the data of citizens will be stored by member states and there will be no centralised database, due to data protection concerns.
In the case of coronavirus outbreaks in Austria and other European countries, it will still be possible to introduce lockdown measures despite the Green Pass, Köstinger told ORF.
No compulsory vaccination
Köstinger stressed there would be no possibility of “compulsory vaccination” and said those who had recovered or tested negative for the coronavirus would have equal status to people who had been vaccinated.
She also said from May the green pass could be used by Austrian residents as “entrance tickets” to visit hairdressers, restaurants and events.
‘Benefit for industry’
The news was welcomed by Austrian Airlines pilot Anthony Tester.
He said: “Anything that helps open up travel and tourism is a benefit for the industry. As with anything international, finding an acceptable framework to work within is just the starting point but hopefully signals that those who are vaccinated, possess antibodies or have tested negative be able to travel with some degree of normality.”
However, one hotel owner expressed concern that the high costs of PCR tests in other countries might make it too expensive for families to travel internationally. In Austria, PCR tests are free, but in the UK for example it can cost more than €100 to get a private PCR test.
Green Pass put on hold in March
Austria had originally hoped to introduce Green Pass or Green certificate entrance tests in April, but the legislation was blocked by opposition parties in the the state chamber of Parliament (Bundesrat)