Countries worldwide are taking a stance in their fight against COVID-19, and so many of them are already defeating it. Europe has begun to lift restrictions, possibly opening borders next month. But with countries looking for ways to reopen their borders safely to international travelers, travel won’t be back to the ‘normal’ as we know, new rules will be in place. One of the options countries are going to safely bring back travel is by considering health - or immunity - passports for travelers, which is essentially a document showing they have tested negative for COVID-19 within a week of their arrival to their destination.
Authorities in many countries have taken this route to enable people to travel again, making the health passports the only way for tourists to be able to cross a border. Travelers would have to present the document before boarding a flight or a ferry, besides having their temperature checked upon arrival with the standard procedures. Popular tourist destinations such as Sardinia, Capri, and Ischia in Italy, and the Balearic Islands in Spain are considering similar measures. Just in time for the holiday season, countries depending on tourism as a source of income are reaching desperate stages to revive the tourism sector again.
Health passports are also viewed as a method to bring back normal life and alleviate restrictions in Germany, France, and the UK as they continue working with tech firms over the possibility of developing health or immunity passports. As a method for lockdown exit strategies, health passports are similar to China’s color-coded QR health system that allowed life to go back to normal in the country where the pandemic started. China’s system verifies whether an individual poses a contagion risk, and similarly, the passports are supposed to hold data from antibody tests specific to COVID-19 to discern whether people currently have the virus or not. But such plans are already raising concerns about the effectiveness and efficiency of such documents.
While many countries are already in the planning phase, the World Health Organization has warned against issuing “immunity passports” to people who have recovered from COVID-19, as there is no evidence that they will be protected from a second infection. Warning that instead, the certificates could pose a health risk by providing unjustified assurances of protection to individuals and their communities, essentially doing the opposite of its intended purpose.
Countries are in a hurry to revive economies and bring back travel, but whether or not health passports take off, flights of the future are likely to see us undergo health checks before departure and upon arrival.
Source: Lonely Planet.