Covid-19: European Commission proposes health seal to help tourism rebound

By June, the community executive wants a technical framework to be defined at EU level to guarantee safety

The European Commission proposed today, 17 March, the creation of a health seal to promote a "safe reopening" of tourism and hotels in the European Union (EU), despite the pandemic.

"In the tourism and hotel sector, the Commission has asked the European Committee for Standardization to develop, in cooperation with industry and Member States, a voluntary health seal to be used by establishments", the institution announces in a press release.

As part of a broader legislative package on the gradual lifting of restrictions in the EU, the community executive adds that the idea is that this seal – similar to the one applied since last year by Turismo de Portugal, the Clean & Safe – be «available in the Summer' of 2021.

Also to boost the recovery of tourism, one of the sectors most impacted by the pandemic due to restrictions and also the lack of consumer confidence, Brussels guarantees that “it will promote EU cultural sites and routes, as well as cultural events and festivals, through a campaign on EU social media on sustainable cultural tourism'.

“New initiatives will be supported when conditions permit, through Erasmus+ and DiscoverEU, to promote the discovery by young people of Europe's cultural heritage by rail, during the current European Year of Railways”, the institution said.

The European Commission today adopted a communication in which it outlines the way forward with a view to a gradual lifting of restrictions in the EU when the epidemiological situation of Covid-19 allows, insisting on the need for coordination.

Having as a key element the legislative proposal, also presented today, with a view to the creation of a digital green certificate - which proves vaccination, negative test or recovery -, the communication of the community executive also includes a European framework for response measures to Covid- 19, established by the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which will also publish guidelines on self-testing and screening strategies.

Regarding this certificate, the idea is that this pass can work in a similar way to a boarding pass for trips, being available in digital and / or paper format, with a QR code to be easily read by electronic devices and made available free of charge and in the national language of the citizen and in English, according to the proposal of the European Commission.

Both in the digital version (which can be stored on a mobile device such as a mobile phone) and on paper, there will be this QR code with essential information, as well as a digital stamp to guarantee the authenticity of the certificate.

The community executive also wants this free pass to fully respect the privacy rules of citizens' data and to be valid in all EU countries.

It will be up to the national authorities of the Member States to issue these transits, suggesting Brussels that this be done, for example, by health institutions, hospitals or laboratories.

By June, the community executive wants to define a technical framework at EU level to guarantee safety and interoperability.

According to the European Commission, by gradually lifting restrictions when the epidemiological situation allows – which is not yet the case – it is necessary to take into account "the lessons of 2020" and avoid successive cycles of opening and closing, with obvious costs.