Czech government drafts bill in preparation of EU Covid passports

The bill, which deals with the issuance of certificates proving Covid-19 status, will be debated by Czech parliament next week.


Written by ČTK Published on 22.05.2021 09:51:00 (updated on 22.05.2021) Reading time: 2 minutes

The Czech Health Ministry has drafted an amendment to the pandemic and public protection law to enable the issuance of certificates regarding whether a person has recently contracted Covid-19 disease, been tested, or vaccinated. The amendment, approved by the Czech cabinet on Friday, also relates to the planned system of EU Covid passports approved by member states this week.

The amendment will next be debated by Czech parliament under a process of legislative emergency, which means that it could be approved even with modifications within a single day.

On request from PM Andrej Babiš, Chamber of Deputies head Radek Vondráček extended the current state of legislative emergency until the end of July so that the bill can be dealt with faster.

Vondráček also decided that the lower house health care committee will present its stance on the bill before the regular lower house plenary session on Tuesday afternoon.

"The goal of the bill is to set a legal framework for issuing certificates to individuals showing that they were vaccinated against the Covid-19 disease, contracted the disease, or were tested for the presence of the SARS‑CoV‑2 virus or its antigen," the document reads.

The certificate will allow people to prove their non-infectiousness where required, for example at large cultural and sporting events or for entering selected service facilities. It can also be submitted by employees at their workplace instead of the mandatory corporate test.

After the cabinet meeting, Health Minister Petr Arenberger told media that the certificate will be available only through a special system operated by the Health Ministry, but after some time it will also be available through the Czech POINT service used for official documents.

A transitional period for both systems operating in parallel will last until the end of the year, after which issuing certificates would be a service of Czech POINT branches, found in many post offices in the Czech Republic, Arenberger said.

The bill also prepares for the system of EU-wide "Covid passports" called the Digital Green Certificate, an EU directive for issuing and verifying certificates of vaccination, testing, and recent illness.

The Czech Health Ministry expects the Digital Green Certificate to be introduced in the coming weeks, probably taking effect as of July 1, to facilitate travelling between EU states.

The EU has not yet defined any detailed conditions for the Digital Green Certificate, such as the type of the test required or the period that can elapse since vaccination or infection.

In the meantime, the Czech Republic has agreed with Austria, Germany, Poland, Hungary, and Slovenia that people can travel between these countries without quarantine or testing 22 days after receiving the first dose of a Covid vaccine. Slovakia is expected to join this agreement as of next week.

People who have received the first dose of a vaccine more than three weeks ago can also return to the Czech Republic without a test or quarantine from most EU countries.

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