Castles that inspired fairy tales, serene lakes, art, underground bars, centuries-old cities and skylines that awe.
I’ll take “Things That We Miss About Europe” for $1,000, please. If this were a real Jeopardy round, what we love about Europe would fill up all categories on the board.
Despair not, wander lasses and boys. Ahead of the July 1 target of the European Union (EU), seven countries have opened to non-EU travelers that are fully vaccinated and have proof of vaccination, alternately called vaccine passport or vaccine certificate.
The seven EU-member states are Czech Republic, Croatia, Denmark, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, and Poland, which issued the first EU Digital COVID Certificates on June 1.
The vaccine passport will also be used in non-EU member countries Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland. It will not be used in the UK.
In May, EU-member states agreed to open for the summer season using a digital pass, which shows whether a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, recently tested and shown a negative result, or has acquired immunity from previously contracting the disease and recovering.
The caveat: European countries will only allow entry to travelers inoculated with any of the vaccines authorized in the EU and US: Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. According to reports, individual states may approve entry for those inoculated with Russia's Sputnik V, which is used by EU-member Hungary.
The widely used Chinese vaccine Sinovac in the Philippines, which was approved this week by the World Health Organization, is not on the list.
The vaccine passport or certificate is a QR code that contains the traveler’s COVID-related data either on one’s smartphone or printed on paper.
The QR code can be scanned and recognized by the 27 countries of the EU, plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. It will be accepted across EU borders and “strictly adhere” to the bloc's data protection laws.
What about the US?
The idea of documentation for vaccinated Americans has proven to be divisive. In March a supporter of former President Donald Trump, Rep. Madison Cawthorn, compared vaccine passports to the yellow Stars of David that Nazis forced Jews to wear during the Holocaust.
On April 6, the Biden administration said it will not support a vaccine passport. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, “The government is not now, nor will we be, supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential. There will be no federal vaccinations database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential.”