Progress on digital health passes prompt EU plan to open to US travelers
The European Union (EU) is planning to ease restrictions on travel into the bloc beginning this summer for United States tourists who have been vaccinated and have proof of it, citing progress on digital health passes. It not yet clear, however, when the policy under discussion will go into effect, The New York Times reports.
The European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen gave the hint in a recent interview to the Times, saying EU member countries will allow entry for people who have been inoculated with vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), but did not disclose details about when and how this process will happen.
All three vaccines currently being used in the U.S. (Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson) have been endorsed by the Agency, the Times notes.
This development comes as the number of vaccinations in the U.S. surpasses half of all adults, and as talks between U.S. and EU authorities on the wider acceptability of the proof of vaccine certificates progress. Officials are working on making digital vaccine certificates broadly readable.
A low-tech credential could be implemented within the near future, according to the report.
Non-essential travel has been restricted into the EU from the U.S. for more than a year now as a result of high COVID infection rates. Easing of travel rules within the European Union has been requested by member countries that make big revenue from tourists.
The move would reverse the current policy under which only people from a few countries with lower caseloads of the virus are allowed into the EU for nonessential travel.
The private sector, meanwhile, continues to ramp up adoption of digital health passes.
IATA Travel Pass trialed by Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic has become the first UK airline to run live trials of the IATA Travel Pass, which is secured with device biometrics and co-developed with Evernym, ahead of the resumption of large-scale travel by the UK government on May 17.
The trial, which started April 23, will run for one month, on the airline’s London Heathrow-Barbados service. The trial is meant to test how the digital health pass can streamline journeys within context of the pandemic, according to an announcement by the airline.
As part of the process, passengers on the airline’s flight VS131, travelling for permitted reasons from London Heathrow to Barbados, were invited to download the free smartphone app and participate in the successful first trial flight, which departed just ahead of schedule.
The IATA Travel pass is among the digital health pass solutions currently being considered by many governments around the work for safe travel.
Officials of Virgin Atlantic and IATA, as well as Barbados’ Minister of Leisure and International Transport, all hailed the trial, hoping it will help in efforts to pave the way for safer full-capacity air journeys.
The biometric health pass is being trialled by many airlines including Singapore Airlines recently.
UFC deploys Clear’s digital pass for fan safety
Fans at an April 24 event held by Mixed Martial Arts promotion organization UFC were screened with the digital health pass by Clear during an indoor sporting event at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida, United States.
This follows a partnership deal signed between the two parties for the safe management of more fans at the sporting event, according to a UFC announcement. It was said to be the first event to have sold out for an indoor spectacle for about a year now in the United States.
The Health Pass by Clear is a free mobile app that securely connects a user’s biometrically verified identity to layers of COVID-19 health information to help reduce public health risks at public events. It also integrated a questionnaire completed by all ticket-holders.
Tickets sold out in just hours for an event that brought together roughly 15,000 fans.
Clear’s health pass solution is used by over 60 organizations, after the NBA sealed a recent deal with the company for the use of Health Pass at stadiums.
Airlines trialing VeriFly health pass app
More airlines, including Aer Lingus and Iberia, have been testing the biometric health pass VeriFly app developed by Daon to enhance health safety for passengers as countries seek to reopen up airspaces in the summer, the Independent reports.
Others such as British airways have been expanding their trial of the solution in the last couple of months.
Aer Lingus passengers on flights to the United States have been using the app on trial basis for the last one month and authorities of the airline plan to extend it to all inbound U.S. flights as well as to London Heathrow routes, the report indicates.
The VeriFly app is designed for storing and authenticating COVID-19 test results, and work in on for vaccination credentials to be added on to it.
Developers of the biometric app say they are also looking to extend the technology out of the aviation industry for other use cases.