The EU’s digital covid certificate scheme took effect on 1 July 2021. European Commission

The EU’s digital covid certificate scheme took effect on 1 July 2021. European Commission

An EU-wide covid certificate programme, intended to help boost summer travel, started operating on Thursday, but a recent spike in infection numbers could reduce the number of tourists who use it.

“The aim of the EU Digital Covid Certificate is to facilitate safe and free movement in the EU during the covid-19 pandemic,” the European Commission on 1 July.

Digital covid certificate

The scheme lets EU residents download a QR code to their smartphone which proves they have been vaccinated in their home country, recovered from covid or have recently tested negative. The code can be used to travel within Europe without a quarantine.

The programme started being rolled out on Thursday to 27 EU countries, plus Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. “More than 200 million certificates have already been generated,” according to the commission. The passes are issued by national health authorities. In Luxembourg, “Covidcheck” certificates can be obtained from the government’s portal.

Rising covid rates in Europe

The digital certificate rollout was overshadowed by a warning issued on the same day from the World Health Organization that covid rates have started rising in Europe.

“A 10-week decline in the number of covid-19 cases in the 53 countries in the WHO European Region has come to an end,” the organisation on Thursday. “Last week, the number of cases rose by 10%, driven by increased mixing, travel, gatherings and easing of social restrictions.”

Hans Kluge, the WHO’s Europe director, said the spike was partially linked with the highly transmissible Delta variant, which could become the dominant strain by August.