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Health Vaccine passports under consideration for international travellers

01:40  06 may  2021
01:40  06 may  2021 Source:   msn.com

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Vaccination requirements for international travel are the aspect of vaccination policy that concerns the movement of people across borders.

Which countries are introducing " vaccine passports " and how this will affect the freedom of movement of cosmopolitans ➤ A second passport and residence permit to travel around the world when borders are closed. Coronavirus PCR test results and dates can also be added to covid passports for the convenience of travellers . By March 2021, there is no single international covid passport format. It is up to each country to decide in which form and what vaccination information to include. This is what an electronic coronavirus vaccination certificate looks like.

The Canadian government is in talks with international partners about a standardized vaccine passport for travellers but health and safety remains the priority, according to MP Irek Kusmierczyk.

a woman standing in front of a store: Sarah Hupalo, travel agent/owner of Goliger's TravelPlus is shown at the Windsor business on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. For vaccine passport story. © Provided by Windsor Star Sarah Hupalo, travel agent/owner of Goliger's TravelPlus is shown at the Windsor business on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. For vaccine passport story.

“There are conversations that are taking place with our international partners about international travel sort of vaccine passports. And that’s about all we know at this point,” said Kusmierczyk, who represents the riding of Windsor-Tecumseh.

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And vaccine passports would initially open up travel to a cohort of the elderly and middle-aged that have been prioritized for inoculation, leaving younger people in effective travel curfew while their parents and grandparents jet off to warmer climes. Some nations are showing more caution about the use of proof of inoculation as a basis for reopening to tourists. Thailand, whose palm-fringed beaches and temples have made it the biggest destination for international tourists in Southeast Asia, plans to shorten the mandatory isolation for vaccinated foreigners by half, to seven days, beginning in April.

What is a vaccine passport ? Vaccine passports for the purpose of travel are primarily taking shape as free mobile apps where international travelers upload their proof of a vaccination as well as any necessary coronavirus test results or other health waivers. An app in development by the International Air Transport Association, the IATA Travel Pass, is slated to be available for Apple users in mid-April and will be rolled out to Android users by the end of that month, according to the IATA. A Contactless Travel Pass portion of the app aims to enable passengers to create a “digital passport

“Our focus right now really is on getting vaccinations and getting the vaccines in to arms of Canadians … on health and safety of Canadians.

“I just want to reiterate that really this is not the time to be travelling.”

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said talks are ongoing with international partners for a vaccine certification, while Tourism Minister Melanie Joly said talks were continuing with G7 partners and some G20 countries, as reported by Reuters.

“It would make sense for us to align with partners around the world on some sort of proof of vaccination or vaccine certification,” Trudeau told reporters.

Canada’s land borders have been closed to all but essential travel for more than a year and air travellers must be tested for COVID-19 and quarantined.

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Vaccine passports are increasingly viewed as the key to unlocking the world after a year of pandemic-induced lockdowns — a few bytes of personal health data, encoded on a chip, that could put an end to suffocating restrictions and restore the freewheeling travel that is a hallmark of the age of globalization. “There’s a very important distinction between international travel and domestic uses,” said Paul Meyer, the founder of the Commons Project, a nonprofit trust that is developing CommonPass, a scannable code that contains coronavirus testing and vaccination data for travelers .

Read more: What Are Vaccine Passports and How Would They Work? Garavaglia told a press conference in Rome that he had requested, and obtained from European Union Commissioner Thierry Breton, a commitment to accelerate introduction of the EU green certificate as much as possible. EU member states would reopen borders to travelers from countries with relatively low infection rates, as well as those who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, under a proposal unveiled on Monday. It could be adopted as soon as the end of May. — With assistance by Iain Rogers.

Sarah Hupalo, a travel agent and owner of Goliger’s TravelPlus, said clients are “chomping at the bit to get out of the gate” after a year that saw devastating losses for the travel industry.

“We’ve been decimated. Our sales year-over-year are down 99 per cent,” Hupalo said. “It’s been pretty stressful for us.

“We can’t do takeout,” she said with a laugh.

Cancelled flights, countries’ ever-changing travel rules, massive refunds, COVID-19 testing requirements have all contributed to the challenges faced by the industry.

When the pandemic hit just over a year ago, Hupalo said, her agency had thousands of customers stranded at one point.

“We were trying to get them all back and we didn’t know if the borders were closing,” she said. “Honestly, I came home and my knees were buckling.

“I’ve been doing this a long time and that was probably the worst month of my life.

“We had some people that were stuck outside of the country six months. People don’t realize what our industry went through.”

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Vaccine passports – or freedom passports as some are calling them – may prove controversial. We look at what they are, and some of the arguments for and against… A passport is an official document issued by a government to identify a person as a citizen of that country. These digital apps are ‘passes’ and simply hold information regarding the Covid-19 health status of travellers such as test results and, eventually, vaccinations . The passes are likely to appear as apps on smartphones, and would have to be recognised by individual governments to allow international travel .

Vaccine passports are not a new idea. Frequent international travelers might be familiar with vaccine cards, which are typically a yellow paper showing a persons' vaccinations . Certain areas require proof of vaccination against illnesses like yellow fever or tuberculosis. The International Air Transport Association is developing a mobile application called " Travel Pass" that displays coronavirus test results or proof of inoculation with the aim of providing "governments with the confidence to reopen borders without imposing quarantines on incoming travelers ."

And with the third wave of the pandemic fully underway, hopes of travelling this summer have been dashed for most people.

“We’re starting to see a few bookings right now for March Break (2022) and some for the late fall, a little bit starting to trickle in now,” Hupalo said.

And while some travellers are making plans, a recent Ipsos survey for the World Economic Forum found that on average about three in four adults across 28 countries agree that COVID-19 vaccine passports should be required of travellers to enter their country and that they would be effective in making travel and large events safe.

The record would prove whether an individual was vaccinated against COVID-19 or recently tested negative for COVID-19 and would be accessible electronically, for example on a mobile phone app, or printed document or card.

Ipsos also reported a strong majority of Canadians think vaccine passports will boost public safety.

Nearly three in four (72 per cent) agree (35 per cent strongly/37 per cent somewhat) that the passports would be effective in making travel and large events safe — in line with the global average of 73 per cent and significantly more than in the United States, where 61 per cent agree.

Vaccine passports under consideration for international travellers

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Hupalo said a vaccine passport or other type of documentation would be welcome as long as it’s standardized “so it’s one system that everybody can use.

“People have to get vaccinations for cholera or yellow fever and even when I went to Vietnam, I had to get a typhoid shot,” she said.

“I think … that all the other countries need to work together to have sort of a uniform or standardized system because for us it’s going to be a nightmare to know (every different requirement).

“Even now, booking people we have to know every entry requirement as far as health requirements and all these declaration forms, PCR (COVID-19) testing. So there’s a lot involved,” she said.

Travellers arriving in Canada by air or land are required to use the ArriveCAN app, where travel and contact information, a quarantine plan and COVID-19 symptom self-assessment are submitted electronically.

“One advantage that we have is that we already have that system in place that potentially could be leveraged … for a travel vaccine on our side,” Kusmierczyk said.

Hupalo said there are some concerns that an app could be compromised.

“Is there possibilities of digital invasion of privacy, is there possibilities of hacking,” she said. “That’s someone’s health information. That’s a concern I think.”

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But she said most countries currently require travellers to fill out a health declaration form along with proof of any required testing for COVID-19.

“But it changes constantly. I’ve got a few grey hairs to prove it,” she said.

“For me, it’s very much early in the conversation,” Kusmierczyk said. “There’s a lot of technical challenges, questions that have to be answered.

“I think it has to be based in science and right now the science says that the jury is still out in terms of how effective vaccines are in terms of reduction of transmission.

“Right now the emphasis is on maintaining strong border measures,” he said. “That’s the sense that I get from our constituents, is that they want strong border measures right now because safety is really paramount.

“The good news is that there has been a lot of alignment on border policies between the U.S. and Canada. I imagine that that co-ordination and collaboration is going to continue in terms of what that post-pandemic world is going to look like.”

jkotsis@postmedia.com

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