Czech govt. preparing ‘Plan B’ Covid passport to allow international vacations this summer

The EU is preparing Digital Green Certificates, but the Czech Republic has its own system on standby to facilitate summer travel.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 29.04.2021 15:37 (updated on 29.04.2021)

The summer holidays are fast approaching, and the Czech government is trying to ensure a method of safe international travel so Czechs can go abroad to popular vacation spots. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš says preparations are underway to introduce a Czech version of a Covid passport in time for the summer.

The European Commission in March promised to launch an EU Covid passport, formally called the Digital Green Certificate, to allow international travel by the summer, and on April 28, the European Parliament finally approved the plan, but member states now have to adopt the plan as well.

“Europe is proceeding fast on making free and safe travel this summer possible. The European Parliament adopted its position on Digital Green Certificate already, now it is up to the discussion with Member States. I hope we will wrap this up quickly,” Věra Jourová, vice president for values and transparency in the European Commission, said on Twitter.

A Czech version of a Covid passport is being developed in parallel as a “plan B” in case there are problems or delays with launching the EU one. The Czech Covid passport would show that the holder has been vaccinated, tested negative, or recovered from Covid within a specified time frame.

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This same information will be needed to, in future waves of relaxation of rules, to use indoor seating at restaurants and pubs, for example. A phone app that would carry vaccination and testing information is already under development.

The Czech Covid passport strategy is still being developed, and it is not year clear if the same solution will be used for both domestic and international needs. Other details on the passport, such as whether it will be physical or a virtual document also have not been decided.

“The health minister, in cooperation with the foreign affairs minister, has the task of presenting the entire strategy,” Babiš told daily Mlada frontá Dnes (MfD).

The strategy will determine not only the conditions for Czechs traveling abroad, but also for the return of foreign tourists to the Czech Republic. It should be ready by the end of May, according to Babiš.

Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhánek said the Czech Republic needs to be ready in case the launch of the Digital Green Certificate is delayed.

"We must also prepare for Plan B if the launch of a pan-European Covid passport fails. And then the Czech Republic will strive for an agreement with individual countries that are the popular destinations. There, we would have to come up with a variant of a national Covid passport," Kulhánek told MfD.

So far, Czechs have been reluctant to plan summer vacations in other countries due to the uncertainty of international travel. Instead, they have been booking up trips to cottages and chalets near domestic nature areas and reserves.

The launch of Covid passport and concrete guidelines would go a long way to reassuring people that it would be safe to book international trips. Jan Papež from the Association of Travel Agencies (ACK) told MfD that international trips so far have been booked by people who have vouchers from trips that were canceled last year. Many travel agencies gave vouchers instead of refunds for canceled trips.

People without vouchers are waiting for the Czech government to make the conditions for international travel clear before they make a commitment.