Madrid (CNN) — The grip of the Delta variant of Covid-19 on the United States and the world continues to have travel ramifications as the summer travel season winds down.

Spain is the latest nation to tighten access to its borders.

In a change from policy earlier this summer , Spain is allowing tourists from the United States only if they are fully vaccinated, the health ministry told CNN on Tuesday.

The new rule took effect this week.

It states that visitors from the United States on so-called “nonessential travel,” such as tourism, must show “a vaccination certificate that the (Spanish) Ministry of Health recognizes as valid.”

The change affects US citizens and other third-country nationals traveling from the United States to Spain for tourism, the health ministry told CNN.

Following EU recommendations

The change came after the European Union last week removed the United States from a list of about 20 non-EU countries that are exempt from the “nonessential travel” rule.

The recommendation is nonbinding. But Spain, an EU member, adopted the change, stating it was for “public health reasons due to Covid-19.”

The US Embassy in Madrid tweeted about the new rule, saying that “US travelers to Spain for nonessential purposes (including tourism) will be required to show proof of vaccination.”

Spain has other exemptions for US citizens, such as working diplomats or others who reside in Spain. They can still enter the country just by showing a negative result from a PCR or antigen test or a certificate of recovery from Covid-19, the health ministry said.

But tourists now must come fully vaccinated.

Other recent actions in Europe

A picture taken on September 14, 2020 shows the Ponte Vecchio bridge (Old Bridge) a medieval stone closed-spandrel segmental arch bridge over the Arno River, in Florence. (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP) (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images)

US tourists wanting to see the Ponte Vecchio, the famed medieval arch bridge in Florence, now have to follow Italy’s stricter travel measures to enter.

Getty Images

On September 4, the Netherlands started requiring that US visitors be fully vaccinated, and it still imposes a quarantine.

Italy, one of the first European countries to open its borders earlier this year, has also introduced new measures affecting arrivals from all destinations, including the United States. On August 31, it began requiring all visitors to have a negative results from a PCR or antigen Covid test taken within 72 hours of travel, regardless of whether they are vaccinated.

And Sweden has decided not to allow US tourists to visit at all, even if they are fully vaccinated.

CDC warnings

Meanwhile, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning travelers away from Spain and some of its European neighbors during this Delta variant spike.

The CDC posts an evolving list of travel notices on Covid-19 risk that ranges from Level 1 (“low”) to Level 4 (“very high”).

Destinations that fall into the “Covid-19 Very High” Level 4 category have had more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days, according to CDC criteria. The CDC advises to “avoid travel to these destinations. If you must travel to these destinations, make sure you are fully vaccinated before travel.”

Here are some significant developments:

  • President Biden will not attend the 2020 Tokyo Games, which begin in 24 days, although first lady Jill Biden may lead the U.S. delegation, the White House said. Infections are rising again in the Japanese capital, which is in a “quasi state of emergency.”
  • The Red Cross in Indonesia is warning that the country’s covid outbreak is on the edge of a “catastrophe” as daily case numbers surge to 20,000, fueled by new variants and a relaxation of restrictions.
  • The Australian cities of Perth and Brisbane went into lockdown in a bid to quash small delta variant outbreaks. Australia also made it easier people under 40 to ask to be vaccinated with Oxford-AstraZeneca shots, which had previously been offered to those over 60.
  • Los Angeles County health officials are recommending all residents wear masks in public indoor spaces, regardless of their vaccination status, to protect against the more contagious delta variant circulating in the state. California has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country.
  • Spanish authorities placed nearly 5,000 people in quarantine after a major outbreak on the resort island of Mallorca involving hundreds of students celebrating the end of the school year.
  • A video emerged on social media Tuesday that appeared to show England’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, who has helped lead Britain’s coronavirus response, being harassed by two men in a park. Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the “thugs” in the video, whom he accused of “despicable harassment” of a “hard-working public servant.”

Italy is likely to alter the regulations for its health pass during the next upcoming weeks, Deputy Health Minister Perpaolo Sileri said.

“It is likely that the Delta variant will force us to remodel the green pass, releasing it after the second dose of a vaccine,” Italy’s Deputy Health Minister noted.

Nonetheless, he highlighted that it is still very early to confirm any possible changes into the system as they still need to wait for the data for another couple of weeks, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

Italy launched its travel health certificate on June 17 in order to facilitate travel within the country and further in the block. Through this scheme, citizens of the country can now obtain a digital health certificate electronically proving that the holder has been vaccinated against the COVID-19, has tested negative, or has recovered from it.

On Monday, Italy became a low-risk country and measures on keeping a mask when in outdoor spaces have been relaxed after more than 50 million COVID-19 vaccines have been administered until now.

This means that as of today, 33 per cent of the entire Italian population have been vaccinated against the COVID-19.

“It’s a very significant figure, the real weapon we have against the rise of the variants is the vaccination campaign,” Minister of Health Roberto Speranza said.

The Higher Health Institute of Italy (ISS) said that the Delta variant, which initially originated in India and then widely spread in the UK, now accounts for more than 16 per cent of new cases in Italy.

Consequently, ISS together with other Italian health experts and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) have urged for more testing, tracing, sequencing, and renewed efforts to increase the vaccination rate.

“Based on available scientific evidence, the Delta variant is more transmissible than other circulating variants and we estimate that by the end of August it will represent 90% of all SARS-CoV-2 viruses circulating in the European Union,” the Director of ECDC Andrea Ammon said.

Until now, Italy has registered 4,258,069 Coronavirus infection cases and 127,472 deaths.

As of June 29, Italy has administered around 50,452,251 vaccine doses with a rate of 546,016 doses per day during the last week. This means that 55.7 per cent of the population have received at least one dose of the vaccine, whereas 33 per cent have been fully vaccinated.

Previously, Italy decided to abolish the ‘Covid-tested‘ flights for arrivals from the US in line with the EU’s recommendation.

Chennai, Jun 17 (IANS): People of Chennai and its suburbs are putting off their travel plans and are not taking up job offers following the delay in uploading vaccine certificates on the portal.

Vaccination proof is mandatory for travelling to several foreign destinations and with pleasure trips ruled out, those planning to travel abroad are either job seekers or those already working in other countries.

Vaccination certificate is mandatory for working in private companies in Tamil Nadu as well as opening shops in Chennai and its suburbs. However, many people who have been vaccinated even last month are yet to receive the SMS or a certificate on their registered mobile phones.

Private firm employee Raghunandan told IANS that he was vaccinated on May 20 and “even after a month, there is no SMS message or an update in the CoWin portal and this is creating problems for my job. My employer is insisting on either of the two”.

The helpline provided is as good as non-operational, he added.

Vendors in the Koyambedu market are also worried as the Market Management committee has brought out a circular that only those who provide the proof of a vaccination certificate will be allowed entry into the market.

Subramanian, a tomato and onion wholesale merchant in Koyambedu market, said: “I have taken both the jabs and the second one was taken on May 16. One month is over and there is no proof, I don’t have any idea as to what I will be doing. The Market Management Committee is adamant.”

Social workers are of the opinion that the government must take immediate corrective measures so that the details are updated as early as possible.

NGO Shelter activist Maya Suresh told IANS that “people have taken jabs by standing in long queues and spending lot of time and after even the initial reluctance to get vaccinated”.

“So in the best of interests of all, the government of Tamil Nadu should take this up with the concerned authorities so that everyone gets the certificate uploaded.”

Several youngsters from Tamil Nadu who are seeking jobs in the Middle East, Europe, the US and Singapore are being held back due to the lack of vaccination certificates.

Manoj Narasimhan, an MBA working in a foreign nation, is worried that he may not be able to go back there without the vaccination details.

“I have taken both the vaccines but have yet to receive the vaccination certificate. I had already booked a ticket for my travel but now I have cancelled it as there is no point travelling as they will not allow entry,” he said.

 

  

Chennai, June 17: People of Chennai and its suburbs are putting off their travel plans and are not taking up job offers following the delay in uploading vaccine certificates on the portal.

Vaccination proof is mandatory for travelling to several foreign destinations and with pleasure trips ruled out, those planning to travel abroad are either job seekers or those already working in other countries.  COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate: You Can Flag Errors in Name, Birth Year and Gender on CoWIN Portal, Know Steps Here

Vaccination certificate is mandatory for working in private companies in Tamil Nadu as well as opening shops in Chennai and its suburbs. However, many people who have been vaccinated even last month are yet to receive the SMS or a certificate on their registered mobile phones.

Private firm employee Raghunandan told IANS that he was vaccinated on May 20 and “even after a month, there is no SMS message or an update in the CoWin portal and this is creating problems for my job. My employer is insisting on either of the two”.

The helpline provided is as good as non-operational, he added.

Vendors in the Koyambedu market are also worried as the Market Management committee has brought out a circular that only those who provide the proof of a vaccination certificate will be allowed entry into the market.

Subramanian, a tomato and onion wholesale merchant in Koyambedu market, said: “I have taken both the jabs and the second one was taken on May 16. One month is over and there is no proof, I don’t have any idea as to what I will be doing. The Market Management Committee is adamant.”

Social workers are of the opinion that the government must take immediate corrective measures so that the details are updated as early as possible.

NGO Shelter activist Maya Suresh told IANS that “people have taken jabs by standing in long queues and spending lot of time and after even the initial reluctance to get vaccinated”.

“So in the best of interests of all, the government of Tamil Nadu should take this up with the concerned authorities so that everyone gets the certificate uploaded.”

Several youngsters from Tamil Nadu who are seeking jobs in the Middle East, Europe, the US and Singapore are being held back due to the lack of vaccination certificates.

Manoj Narasimhan, an MBA working in a foreign nation, is worried that he may not be able to go back there without the vaccination details.

“I have taken both the vaccines but have yet to receive the vaccination certificate. I had already booked a ticket for my travel but now I have cancelled it as there is no point travelling as they will not allow entry,” he said.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jun 17, 2021 04:59 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).

People of Chennai and its suburbs are putting off their travel plans and are not taking up job offers following the delay in uploading vaccine certificates on the portal.

Vaccination proof is mandatory for travelling to several foreign destinations and with pleasure trips ruled out, those planning to travel abroad are either job seekers or those already working in other countries.

Vaccination certificate is mandatory for working in private companies in Tamil Nadu as well as opening shops in Chennai and its suburbs. However, many people who have been vaccinated even last month are yet to receive the SMS or a certificate on their registered mobile phones.

Private firm employee Raghunandan told IANS that he was vaccinated on May 20 and “even after a month, there is no SMS message or an update in the CoWin portal and this is creating problems for my job. My employer is insisting on either of the two”.

The helpline provided is as good as non-operational, he added.

Vendors in the Koyambedu market are also worried as the Market Management committee has brought out a circular that only those who provide the proof of a vaccination certificate will be allowed entry into the market.

Subramanian, a tomato and onion wholesale merchant in Koyambedu market, said: “I have taken both the jabs and the second one was taken on May 16. One month is over and there is no proof, I don’t have any idea as to what I will be doing. The Market Management Committee is adamant.”

Social workers are of the opinion that the government must take immediate corrective measures so that the details are updated as early as possible.

NGO Shelter activist Maya Suresh told IANS that “people have taken jabs by standing in long queues and spending lot of time and after even the initial reluctance to get vaccinated”.

“So in the best of interests of all, the government of Tamil Nadu should take this up with the concerned authorities so that everyone gets the certificate uploaded.”

Several youngsters from Tamil Nadu who are seeking jobs in the Middle East, Europe, the US and Singapore are being held back due to the lack of vaccination certificates.

Manoj Narasimhan, an MBA working in a foreign nation, is worried that he may not be able to go back there without the vaccination details.

“I have taken both the vaccines but have yet to receive the vaccination certificate. I had already booked a ticket for my travel but now I have cancelled it as there is no point travelling as they will not allow entry,” he said.

–IANS

aal/vd

BRUSSELS — European Union lawmakers on Wednesday endorsed a new travel certificate that will allow people to move between European countries without having to quarantine or undergo extra coronavirus tests, paving the way for the pass to start in time for summer.

The widely awaited certificate is aimed at saving Europe’s travel industry and prime tourist sites from another disastrous vacation season. Key travel destinations like Greece have led the drive to have the certificate, which will have both paper and digital forms, rapidly introduced.

Several EU countries have already begun using the system, including Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece and Poland.

►Have COVID vaccine, will travel:These are the countries open to fully vaccinated Americans

►Health risks:CDC, State Department downgrade travel alerts for dozens of countries

When will Americans be able to travel to Europe?

People coming from outside the EU, the overwhelming majority of whom should be vaccinated to enter, will be able to get a certificate if they can convince authorities in the EU country they enter that they qualify for one.

Right now, traveling in the EU’s 27 nations is a trial for tourists and airlines alike. Countries have various COVID-19 traffic-light systems, where those in green are considered safe and those in red to be avoided. But each nation is applying different rules and standards, making travel confusing for all.

The new regulations governing the vaccine certificates were adopted in two votes at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. Rules for EU citizens were passed 546 to 93, with 51 abstentions. Those for people from outside the bloc passed 553 to 91, with 46 abstentions.

The vote must still be rubber-stamped by EU nations, but that’s likely a formality.

►Can Americans travel to Spain?:Yes, if you’ve gotten the COVID-19 vaccine

How will European travel certificates work?

It means that beginning July 1 for 12 months, all EU countries must recognize the vaccine certificate. They will be issued free and certify that a person has either been fully vaccinated against the virus, has recently tested negative or has recovered from the disease.

The rules will not be heavily enforced for 6 weeks to allow countries to prepare.

►’Absolutely critical to both countries’:US, UK airlines urge lifting of travel restrictions

The passes will be issued by individual nations, not from a centralized European system. They will contain a QR code with advanced security features. Personal data will not be shared with other countries.

Spanish Socialist lawmaker Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar, who chaperoned the votes through parliament, said “EU states are encouraged to refrain from imposing further restrictions, unless strictly necessary and proportionate.”

Seven countries began using the European Union’s digital certificate on Tuesday, allowing for fully vaccinated people to travel.

The Digital Green Certificate began operating ahead of schedule this week in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Croatia and Poland. The digital record stores whether a person has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, has recovered from the virus or has tested negative for the virus within 72 hours.

Cartoons on the Coronavirus

The countries made the certificates available to residents and are also accepting them for visitors.

The free certificate is in either digital or paper format that contains a QR code with a digital signature to protect against forgery and falsification, the European Commission said.

Each issuing body, a hospital, testing center or health authority, has its own digital signature, stored in a secure database in each country and the commission is developing a “gateway” where all certificate signatures can be verified across the EU.

According to the commission, June is a scheduled “warm-up phase,” allowing member countries to launch the certificate on a voluntary basis provided the countries are ready to issue and verify certificates.

The commission expects the system to be operational in all 27 member countries by July 1, and it will revise travel recommendations within the European Union later this month.

Issued on:

Brussels (AFP)

EU leaders on Tuesday welcomed the introduction of a bloc-wide Covid-19 pass that they hope will unlock a tourist surge this summer.

The 27 member states want the EU Digital Covid Certificate, to be launched July 1, to turn the page on coronavirus restrictions that have crimped Europeans’ cherished freedom of movement.

Coupled with a separate plan to let in fully vaccinated travellers from countries outside the EU, to be defined by the middle of June, Europe believes its vital tourist industry could claw back some of the losses racked up since the start of the pandemic.

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen told a media conference after the summit that more than 300 million Covid-19 vaccine doses will have been delivered by the end of this week, rising to 400 million next month.

“If we continue like this, we have confidence that we will be able to safely reopen our societies,” she said, adding the EU was on track to meet its goal of fully inoculating 70 percent of adults by late July.

“Progressively, we should return to the ability to move freely throughout the European Union,” European Council President Charles Michel said.

EU countries and the European Parliament struck agreement last week on the legislation to come into force mid-June for the Covid certificate. Von der Leyen said all the technological infrastructure would be ready by June 1.

The leaders of Greece, Spain and Croatia, whose economies strongly rely on tourist spending, were particularly effusive about the common document.

They all had wipe-out summer seasons last year, but are already starting to welcome back foreign travellers, ignoring Brussels’ plea to coordinate at an EU level.

– QR code verification –

Luxembourg’s prime minister, Xavier Bettel, pointed out that a scannable QR code on the certificates will stymie the “hugely copied” PDF files of test results or vaccinations that some people were using to cross borders.

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The EU’s Covid certificate will show the bearer’s vaccination status, or whether they have immunity from a Covid infection they have recovered from, or the result of a Covid test.

Conscious that the EU has procured up to 4.4 billion vaccine doses over the next two years — far more than it needs for its population of 450 million — leaders have rallied to a pledge made at a G20 summit in Rome last Friday to share 100 million doses to countries in need by the end of this year.

Denmark and Sweden each promised three million doses from their stocks at the summit. Germany, Italy and France had already pledged higher amounts.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she also pushed leaders to agree a mechanism to “react quickly and cohesively” if worrying new coronavirus variants popped up.

The Brussels gathering of EU leaders on Tuesday also looked at ways to share out the burden on battling climate change, to meet the target of cutting emissions by 55 percent over the rest of this

People receive COVID-19 vaccine in the Central Mosque in Ehrenfeld suburb, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Cologne, Germany, May 8, 2021. REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen

The European Commission expects to finish work soon on a COVID-19 certificate that could allow citizens to travel more easily this summer in the 27-nation bloc, the EU executive said on Tuesday after a meeting with European affairs ministers.

The pass would allow those vaccinated, recovered from COVID-19 or with negative test results to cross borders in a union where restrictions on movement have weighed heavily on the travel and tourism industry for more than a year. read more

“This is a priority for our citizens and therefore I believe we will deliver (on the certificate) before summer,” Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic said after the meeting in Brussels. He said he expected a full roll-out by the summer.

A two week pilot project to test the technology a few countries at a time began on Monday, the EU Commission said.

But EU governments, the European Parliament and the Commission must agree on the design of the certificate. They must also decide whether faster, but less accurate, COVID-19 antigen tests can be included.

Sefcovic called on all sides to work together to complete the legislative, as well as the technical, work as quickly as possible, noting the complexity of the job.

“For the certificate to work, it has to be on smartphones, it has to be interoperable, possible to check it. So it is quite the task to do it at the pan-European level”, Sefcovic said.

The European Parliament says no one will be obliged to use the EU certificate and it must not be considered a vaccine passport.

Sefcovic said the Commission was working closely to inform the United States, the World Health Organization and others about its progress to allow the certificate to be used on a wider scale.

As the vaccination campaign in the EU is gaining speed with 200 million jabs delivered and COVID-19 infections rates falling, Europe is starting to reopen cities and beaches, raising hopes for the summer holiday season. read more

German Europe Minister Michael Roth called for a swift agreement.

“This is not only important for countries depending on tourism but for all of us: It is … a clear signal for freedom of movement and for mobility in the European Union,” Roth said in Brussels.

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