Hungarians who have been vaccinated or have recovered from the virus will be able to prove their immunity with a plastic card, Head of the Prime Minister’s Office Gergely Gulyás told on Thursday. Many around Europe are referring to this license as a “vaccine passport” since it gives people hope that they will once again be able to travel.
The certification hints at potential benefits which those who are vaccinated may enjoy, such as the liberty to stay out past the national curfew of 8 pm, but the government has not yet released an official decision on this.
The minister says that while the situation is improving, restrictions cannot be loosened until the number of cases goes down and mass vaccination begins.
The concept of a vaccine passport has been around since the beginning of the pandemic, but it is now reaching the point where it could become a reality.
The subject is increasingly being considered by European leaders, especially since it was brought up by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
What Would the Benefits Be?
Mitsotakis sent a letter to the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, calling on the European Union to introduce a vaccination certificate for the coronavirus. Von der Leyen welcomed the proposal, saying that it is a medical requirement to have a certificate proving vaccination, but that the potential benefits of such a certificate should first be discussed on a “European level.”
The Greek Prime Minister believes this certificate would help facilitate travel and an overall freedom of movement within the European Union by creating what he calls a “fast travel lane.”
Spain has stated its intentions of introducing such a certificate, in order to facilitate travel and revitalize its tourism sector.
Denmark is also making plans for vaccine passports, to which the head of the secretariat for Danish festivals said that it could be optimal for what he called “Corona-free festivals.”
Iceland has already officially legislated vaccination certificates, giving all Icelandic citizens who have been inoculated for the second time the ability to prove their immunity. The country now also recognizes all future vaccination certificates within the European Economic Area.
The subject is also being approached by private corporations. Tech firms in the United States and Europe have teamed up with The Commons Project to make the CommonPass app, software which transforms citizen’s vaccine and test status into a QR code to be scanned at the airport. This would make travel much safer and more efficient.
The app is being tested by major airlines and the airports’ international industry organization, Airports Council International.
EU Council Says the Situation Needs to Improve First
EU leaders came together in a videoconference on Thursday January 21 to discuss vaccination, new virus variants, and vaccination certificates.
President of the European Council Charles Michel said regarding the vaccine passport, that careful preparations need to be made in order to allow these licenses in the future.
Michel said member states will return to the question at a later date, since the use of these certifications around the continent can only be considered in the later stages of the pandemic.
In order to facilitate such a license, the president says the vaccination process needs to be exceptionally coordinated, recognized, and under strict control.
For now, it seems that those with a vaccination certificate will only see benefits in Hungary, if the government allows it.
Featured photo illustration by Zoltán Máthé /MTI