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Europe: vaccine passports look more likely for conference goers

Delegates hoping to attend an association conference in Europe could be asked to produce a ‘Covid pass’ as more governments introduce restrictions on the unvaccinated meeting indoors.

The rapid spread of the Delta variant has spooked leaders in the continent who are anxious to kickstart their battered economies while protecting the gains made by the vaccines.

In France, a ‘health pass’ showing proof of vaccination, a negative test, or recovery from Covid-19, is now required for museums, galleries, cinemas, and ‘work events’ for more than 50 people.

From August the rules will apply to cafes, restaurants, and trains.

A similar health pass is being rolled out in Italy from August 6th. The so-called ‘green pass’ will be mandatory to access sports centres, concerts, cultural venues, and fairs.

The pass will indicate that the holder has either received at least one dose of the vaccine, has recovered from the disease, or tested negative in the previous 48 hours.

PM Mario Draghi said the pass was a ‘condition to keep economic activity open’ and would allow Italians to ‘continue their activities with the guarantee of not being among contagious people’.

In Greece, bars and restaurants can now only welcome vaccinated customers inside, mimicking similar rules Portugal introduced at the start of July. Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Lithuania, the Netherlands, and Slovenia, all have some level of restriction on gathering, or dining, indoors, which have the potential to disrupt conference and meetings.

In the UK, meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has lifted most lockdown restrictions as part of so-called Freedom Day but a Covid pass is now on the cards for large events.

Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said the government ‘reserved the right’ to make the NHS Covid Pass compulsory where venues were likely to host large numbers of people.

He said: “For proprietors of venues and events where large numbers are likely to gather and likely to mix with people from outside their households for prolonged periods, deploying the pass is the right thing to do. The pass has an important role to play in slowing the spread of the virus and so we reserve the right to mandate its use in the future.”

Zahawi also confirmed that the government intends to go ahead with making being vaccinated a condition for entry to nightclubs from September, something first revealed by the prime minister in a press conference on Freedom Day, Monday 19 July. However, there was no further information on exactly which other events could be mandated to use the Covid pass.

 

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