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Seven European countries begin issuing a digital Covid certificate for travel

A digital Covid certificate system that will facilitate travel within the European Union became operational in seven countries on Tuesday — ahead of schedule — previewing what could become a standard for post-pandemic global mobility.

The document, known as a digital green certificate, records whether people have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, recovered from the virus or tested negative within 72 hours. Travelers can move freely if at least one of those three criteria is met.

Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Croatia and Poland made the certificates available to their citizens as of Tuesday and are accepting them for visitors. The European Commission, the bloc’s administrative branch, said the system would be used in all 27 E.U. countries as of July 1.

The digital green certificate was launched after two months of preparation, a relatively fast turnaround considering that it required coordination among the 27 countries and contains security features that validate the data’s authenticity. Because of concerns about privacy, the system’s data is not retained anywhere, the Commission said.

The long-term goal is for all people within the European Union to have the certificates and for visitors from outside the bloc to be able to receive one upon arrival. Providing them to outsiders could be tricky, however, considering that not all countries have been giving people secure vaccination documents.

The European Commission is in talks with the United States about how to verify the vaccination status of American visitors. It has also asked E.U. countries to start waiving testing and quarantine demands for people who are vaccinated or recently recovered from the coronavirus, and to stop requiring quarantines for people with a negative virus test.

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