European Union digital COVID certificate rollout could lead to long airport wait times, trade groups warn

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The European Union’s Digital COVID Certificate was designed to save the continent’s travel industry, but trade groups warn that a "patchwork" rollout across member countries could damage the industry's recovery efforts.

A joint letter from trade groups Airlines for Europe, Airports Council International, European Regions Airline Association and the International Air Transport Association Monday warned that the different approaches member countries are taking to implement the certificate, also referred to as the DCC, could lead to long passenger queues and wait times.

The letter was sent three days ahead of the July 1 deadline for EU member countries to recognize the vaccine certificate system.

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"As passenger traffic increases in the coming weeks, the risk of chaos at European airports is real," the letter reads. “It compromises the success of this summer’s air travel restart and will undermine (the) restoration of free movement across the EU.”

A letter signed by trade groups warrns that the “patchwork of approaches” member countries are taking while implementing the certificate could lead to long passenger queues and waiting times.
A letter signed by trade groups warrns that the “patchwork of approaches” member countries are taking while implementing the certificate could lead to long passenger queues and waiting times.

What does the European Union’s Digital COVID Certificate do?

The free virus pass comes in both paper and digital forms and allows travelers to move freely between European countries without needing to quarantine or undergo additional COVID testing. The passes show a person's vaccination status and whether they have recently tested negative or recovered from the virus.

Passes are issued by individual nations. Twenty EU countries and three non-EU member countries are "effectively connected" and verifying at least one of the three certificate qualifications.

The countries include:

  • Austria

  • Belgium

  • Bulgaria

  • Croatia

  • Czech Republic

  • Denmark

  • Estonia

  • Finland

  • France

  • Germany

  • Greece

  • Italy

  • Latvia

  • Lithuania

  • Luxembourg

  • Poland

  • Portugal

  • Slovakia

  • Slovenia

  • Spain

  • Liechtenstein

  • Iceland

  • Norway

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Eight countries (Cyprus, Hungary, Ireland, Malta, The Netherlands, Romania, Sweden and Switzerland) have not connected but are considered "technically ready" to connect, according to the European Union's website.

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A Tuesday statement from the International Air Transport Association said there are at least 10 different national approaches to the certificates that are under review across the EU, and warned that the implementation plan as it stands “threatens the success of this summer’s air travel restart and will undermine free movement of citizens across the EU.”

IATA and the other trade associations have asked the EU to standardize the verification protocols across member countries and verify travelers' certificates before they arrive at airports "to limit operational disruptions."

"The smooth implementation of the DCC and the restoration of freedom of movement are crucially important for restoring passenger confidence and to help our sector’s recovery," the letter reads.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID passport: EU airport wait times could extend, trade groups warn

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