Rome — The coronavirus pandemic has made travel more complicated for everyone, from airlines to security personnel and, of course, passengers. Europe has started cutting some of the red tape limiting international travel with its own version of a COVID-19 “passport.”
Now, for many Europeans looking to move around the continent, the “Green Pass” is as important an item to check off the travel preparation list as tickets and bags.
As CBS News correspondent Chris Livesay reports, at check-in, passengers can now use the smartphone app to show they’ve been vaccinated, tested negative, or recovered from the virus before they board.
“We’re lucky to have an app that’s so easy to use,” said Leo Roussell as he prepared to fly from Paris to Corsica.
Livesay gave the Green Pass app a try himself in Rome, and he also found it pretty straight forward.
“We need to reconnect people and societies in a safe way,” said Ivan Bassato, the chief aviation officer for Rome’s airports. “People don’t travel only for holiday. They travel to meet parents that they haven’t seen in more than a year. During a pandemic, we need to ensure as an industry that it’s done safely.”
The Green Pass, said Bassato, “is a very smart, safe tool to ensure that these conditions are observed.”
To be clear, no one is forcing Europeans to use the app. Many people still carry hard copies of their COVID-19 information, to prove vaccination status or recent test results.
As for concerns about handing over sensitive health data, there’s nothing on the app that travelers aren’t required to hand over already — information like names and when you had your last COVID test.
What the app does, however, is slash the time it takes officials to check all those records at travel hubs among travelers from different countries, in different formats and languages.
Without the Green Pass, American travelers like Eleni Makriannis and James Shay have to keep track of their various coronavirus-related documents on their own.
“It’s a lot of paperwork,” Makriannis told CBS News.
“I think every country should have something at that nationalized level, for the citizens’ safety,” said Shay.
“Something electronic versus a piece of paper,” added Makriannis.
At the Rome airport, Bassato said a similar system in the U.S. would make travel easier for everyone – Europeans going to the U.S. and Americans coming to Europe. But given how much the notion of a “COVID passport” has been politicized, he said he didn’t expect anything like it in the U.S. anytime soon.