Proof of vaccination is becoming an increasingly important key to summer holidays this year, as the UK and EU reportedly make positive progress towards health certificate interoperability.
Faced with pressure from Germany and other EU countries to tighten its travel rules, the Portuguese government this week decided to require British tourists to quarantine for 14 days unless they have been fully vaccinated.
Specifically, with immediate effect, anyone travelling from the UK to mainland Portugal – including Faro and the Algarve region – must quarantine for 14 days in the place they are staying or another place indicated by the Portuguese health authority, unless they can show they have been vaccinated with an EU-approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to travel. They must also be able to prove they have completed the vaccination programme.
You can check out the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office’s GOV.UK website for more detailed, and regularly updated, information about the requirements for Portuguese travel.
According to the UK government, travellers can use an NHS Covid Pass to prove their vaccination status. The pass is available in paper or digital format, and can be accessed two weeks after receiving a second dose of the vaccine.
Talks between the UK and EU are said to be nearing conclusion as authorities aim to ensure mutual recognition of the NHS Digital COVID Pass and the EU Digital COVID Certificate.
This comes on the eve (1 July) of the EU certificate officially going live across the continent. According to the European Commission, the aim is to facilitate safe and free movement inside the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic. “All Europeans have the right to free movement, also without the certificate, but the certificate will facilitate travel, exempting holders from restrictions like quarantine.”
Key objectives of the certificate regulation are to:
- Cover COVID-19 vaccination, tests and recovery
- Be free of charge and available in all EU languages
- Be available in both digital and paper-based formats
- Be secure and include a digitally signed QR code
If the EU and UK authorities can reach agreement, the certificate and NHS app will allow border control officers to scan a QR code and confirm a traveller’s vaccination status and right to free passage.
Reporting that a deal was understood to be pending, the Guardian newspaper said, “The German government, which has enforced a 14-day quarantine on all tourists from Britain since 26 May, is yet to convince countries more dependent on tourism (such as Portugal) that stringent quarantine requirements on all travellers from the UK are necessary.
“For travellers from the UK who have had both doses of an approved vaccine, the prospect of a relatively normal summer break appears brighter, with popular destinations loath to shut the doors on those who are unlikely to be infectious. According to the latest data, 61.9 per cent of UK adults are now fully vaccinated and 84.4 per cent have had at least a first dose.”