European Union lawmakers on Wednesday endorsed a new travel certificate that will allow people to move between European countries without having to quarantine or undergo extra coronavirus tests, paving the way for the pass to start in time for summer.
The widely awaited certificate is aimed at saving Europe’s travel industry and prime tourist sites from another disastrous vacation season. Key travel destinations like Greece have led the drive to have the certificate, which will have both paper and digital forms, rapidly introduced.
Several EU countries have already begun using the system, including Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece and Poland.
Right now, travelling in the EU’s 27 nations is a trial for tourists and airlines alike. Countries have various COVID-19 traffic-light systems, where those in green are considered safe and those in red to be avoided. But each nation is applying different rules and standards, making travel confusing for all.
The new regulations governing the vaccine certificates were adopted in two votes at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.
The vote must still be rubber-stamped by EU nations, but that’s likely a formality.
It means that beginning July 1 for 12 months, all EU countries must recognize the vaccine certificate. They will be issued free and certify that a person has either been fully vaccinated against the virus, has recently tested negative or has recovered from the disease.
The rules will not be heavily enforced for six weeks to allow countries to prepare.
The passes will be issued by individual nations, not from a centralized European system. They will contain a QR code with advanced security features. Personal data will not be shared with other countries.
Canada’s tourism sector is also seeking clarity around reopening, with operators in several provinces pushing for clearer guidelines, and others seeking details around when travellers from the U.S. may be welcomed back.
-From The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 7:05 a.m. ET
What’s happening across Canada
As of early Wednesday morning, Canada had reported 1,395,410 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 21,539 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 25,791.
More than 26.8 million COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered so far across the country, according to CBC’s vaccine tracker.
In Atlantic Canada on Tuesday, health officials reported a total of 21 new cases of COVID-19, including:
- Seventeen new cases in Nova Scotia, including nine in the central zone that includes Halifax.
- Three new cases in Newfoundland and Labrador and one additional death, bringing the number of deaths in the province to seven.
- One new case in New Brunswick, where health officials are trying to connect with unvaccinated people as they try to meet a goal of getting a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to 75 per cent of eligible people.
- No new cases in Prince Edward Island.
In Quebec, meanwhile, health officials reported four deaths and 149 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. The update came as Premier François Legault said the province is speeding up its deconfinement plan. Legault said all regions of the province will be either at the green or yellow pandemic-alert levels as of next Monday, allowing indoor private gatherings and team sports to resume.
Ontario on Tuesday reported 18 additional deaths and 469 new cases of COVID-19, while hospitalizations stood at
621. According to the province, of those in hospital, 481 people were in intensive care units due to COVID-19.
Across the Prairie provinces, Manitoba on Tuesday reported two additional deaths and 237 new cases of COVID-19 as Premier Brian Pallister announced a plan for an immunization card for fully vaccinated Manitobans.
With the card, people who travel within Canada will be allowed to skip the two-week isolation period upon their return to the province.
In Saskatchewan, health officials reported two additional deaths on Tuesday and 90 new cases of COVID-19.
Alberta‘s medical officer of health on Tuesday reported 139 new cases of COVID-19 and three new deaths.
Across the North, Yukon reported one confirmed case of COVID-19 and two probable cases on Tuesday. There were no new cases reported in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.
In British Columbia, health officials say it’s encouraging to see a steady increase in the number of people who are protected with a COVID-19 vaccine as the number of cases decline. The update came as B.C.reported 165 new infections and no additional deaths.
-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 7 a.m.
What’s happening around the world
As of early Wednesday morning, more than 174 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to a database from Johns Hopkins University in the United States. The reported death toll around the world stood at more than 3.7 million.
In Africa, in the global race to vaccinate people against COVID-19, the continent is tragically at the back of the pack. In South Africa, with the continent’s most robust economy, only 0.8 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated. In Nigeria, it’s 0.1 per cent. Kenya is even lower. And Uganda has recalled doses from rural areas because it doesn’t have nearly enough to fight outbreaks in big cities.
In the Asia-Pacific region, South Korea is talking with Singapore about opening its first “travel bubble” in July, which would allow vaccinated travellers on direct flights to bypass quarantine.
Health officials said Wednesday the country has also proposed bubbles with Taiwan, Thailand and the U.S. Pacific territories of Guam and Saipan as they look to ease pandemic-related travelling restrictions to revive ailing tourism and airline industries. South Korea currently mandates two-week quarantines on most passengers arriving from abroad.
In the Americas, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has eased travel recommendations for more than 110 countries and territories, including Japan just ahead of the Olympics.
In the Middle East, there were six deaths and 2,179 new cases of COVID-19 reported in the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday, local media reported.
-From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 6:55 a.m. ET