The legislative process for the European Union COVID-19 vaccine passports for travel has come to an end today, on June 14, after the presidents of the three main EU institutions – the Parliament, the Council, and the Commission – signed the Regulation at an official signing ceremony.

During the ceremony, the Presidents David Sassoli and Ursula von der Leyen and the Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa, who is currently the President of the Council, showed their support for the document, asserting that it is “a symbol of what Europe stands for.”

Our Union showed again that we work best when we work together. The EU Digital COVID Certificate Regulation was agreed between our institutions in the record time of 62 days. While we worked through the legislative process, we also built the technical backbone of the system, the EU gateway, which is live since June 1,” the Presidents said.

The EU Commission first brought forward the proposal for the establishment of a document that would make it possible to restore the freedom of movement in the block in mid-March this year.

After it went through the EU procedures, the Regulation has finally been approved, and 13 member states have already connected to the EU gateway and started issuing COVID-19 passport to their citizens.

The EU Certificate will again enable citizens to enjoy this most tangible and cherished of EU rights – the right to free movement. Signed into law today, it will enable us to travel more safely this summer. Today we reaffirm together that an open Europe prevails,” the Presidents said during the ceremony.

Upon the official signature today, the Regulation will become effective on July 1, and the Member States are obliged to start issuing the first certificates within six weeks if they haven’t done so by then.

Bulgaria, Czechia, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Croatia and Poland started issuing the first passports on the very first day of this month, June 1. Six other countries – Austria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, and Spain – have issued the first passports to their citizens in the days following.

The rest of the EU and Schengen Area countries, except for Hungary and Finland, which are still in the test phase, are technically ready to connect to the EUDCC gateway.

The certificate is being issued to travellers who have been vaccinated with one of the vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency, those who have recently recovered from COVID-19, as well those who test negative for COVID-19.

According to the Regulation, the Member States are advised against imposing any extra travel restrictions in those holding such a document, unless in cases when the additional measures are a must in order to safeguard the public health.

The Regulation is set to remain in effect until June 31, 2022

DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Truth be told, groundbreaking for the new Jim Robinson Field House on the campus of Foxcroft Academy took place more than a week ago.

But Monday afternoon’s ceremony acknowledging the start of construction of the $5.5 million project — backed at times by a soundtrack of heavy equipment continuing to move earth from a former soccer field just beyond the school’s football stadium — marked a turning point for a project years in the making.

When completed by the summer of 2022, the 81,000-square-foot structure will house an artificial turf field large enough to host field hockey contests and other activities for Foxcroft student-athletes and community members throughout the area.

It also will feature a four-lane, fifth-of-a-mile walking track around the inside of the building, a jumping pit for indoor track events, locker room facilities, office space and a weight room.

Team practices for numerous sports and even countable field hockey games are among uses planned for the field house, but attendees won’t be limited to a school-age clientele.

“I see senior citizens getting up in the morning and walking here because it’s going to provide a very safe walking space,” Foxcroft head of school Arnold Shorey said. “I see batting cages for softball and baseball players. I see it used for warming up for the golf season, so when someone wants to swing a golf club in March I see golfers coming in and hitting into a net. We’re going to do everything we can to make this something for the entire community.”

The project’s origin involved a planned expansion of the school’s gymnasium but was upgraded in 2018 when the Portland-based Libra Foundation continued its major investment in the region by providing a lead gift of $2 million for an on-campus field house.

The private philanthropy previously funded construction of the $5.5 million Piscataquis County Ice Area that opened on West Main Street in 2019 and in recent years also invested more than $10 million in the town of Monson, located 20 miles north of Dover-Foxcroft on Route 15, by building an arts colony, upgrading downtown buildings and creating a new medical center.

“I think this is a high-growth area for the state of Maine with everything there is to offer,” said Craig Denekas, Libra Foundation chairman and chief executive officer. “The opportunities for new families here are fantastic and the recreational opportunities here are second to none, so we felt this was really an area we wanted to focus on because of all the resources that are here already. We can build on that.”

Foxcroft Academy is continuing to raise the remaining funds needed for the field house, including the naming-rights donation made by Jim Robinson, a 1959 FA alumnus and owner of the Dover-Foxcroft-based A.E. Robinson Oil Co.

Those fundraising efforts were slowed somewhat in 2020 due to the pandemic but have bounced back this year, Shorey said.

“Eliminating travel and in-person meetings really impacted us but slowly it’s picking back up,” he

  • A quarantine-free travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand launched on Monday.
  • It allows quarantine-free travel between the two countries, provided they both keep their COVID-19 outbreaks under control. 
  • Photos and videos of their first arrivals showed emotional reunions between family and friends.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Australia and New Zealand’s travel bubble has officially launched.

Starting Monday, residents can travel between the two countries without a mandatory quarantine. They will still be required to wear face masks on the flight and follow coronavirus rules on the ground.

“It is truly exciting to start quarantine-free travel with Australia. Be it returning family, friends or holiday-makers, New Zealand says, ‘Welcome and enjoy yourself,'” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a joint statement with Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison.

The travelers on the first flight to land in Auckland arrived to a joyous and emotional scene. 

australia new zealand travel bubble

Loved ones are reunited as the first quarantine free trans-Tasman flight touches down in Auckland from Sydney on April 19, 2021 in Auckland, New Zealand.

Fiona Goodall/Getty Images


According to the Guardian journalist Michael McGowan, who was on board the first flight of the bubble to land in Auckland, the first arrivals were met by crowds of people waiting to greet their loved ones, cameras everywhere, and an acoustic band singing “welcome home, welcome home, welcome home.” The emotional reunions were “genuinely very touching,” McGowan wrote.

At Sydney’s international airport, a group of drag queens with gold balloons and signs welcomed Kiwis to Australia, according to Reuters photos. 

Both Australia’s and New Zealand’s borders are still closed to tourists from all other countries. In both countries, returning citizens and permanent residents must undergo a pre-departure COVID-19 test and a 14-day quarantine

Qantas Airways said it will fly about 200 flights per week between the two countries as part of the bubble, and Air New Zealand said it will operate about 30 flights per day from Auckland to Australia.

new zealand australia travel bubble drag queens

Drag queens welcome New Zealand travelers as quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand begins, at Sydney International Airport, Australia, April 19, 2021.

AAP Image/Mick Tsikas/via REUTERS


Ardern announced the travel bubble in a press conference two weeks ago while also warning the bubble would be “flyer beware,” meaning New Zealand would not assist any travelers who get stuck if either country reimposes a lockdown.

The travel bubble hinges on both countries keeping the virus at bay. If a case is detected that either country believes is not easily contained, the bubble will be suspended, Ardern said during the announcement. If either country reports multiple cases, flights between the two countries will stop.

Both countries’ borders have been essentially closed to non-residents for over a year, and both have kept their COVID-19 outbreaks under control. New Zealand has reported a total of 2,239 cases and 26 deaths, and Australia has reported 29,505 cases and 910 deaths.



a group of people wearing costumes: Tourists from Taiwan get their temperature taken following their arrival in Palau on April 1. RICHARD W. BROOKS/AFP via Getty Images


© RICHARD W. BROOKS/AFP via Getty Images
Tourists from Taiwan get their temperature taken following their arrival in Palau on April 1. RICHARD W. BROOKS/AFP via Getty Images

Taiwan and Palau launched Asia’s first travel bubble for quarantine-free travel last week, CNN reported.

Residents can now travel back and forth between the islands without a mandatory quarantine – but they must follow strict rules.

Before leaving their country of residence, travelers are required to arrive at the airport 5.5 hours early to take an on-site COVID-19 test, according to CNN. And once they arrive in the other country, they must travel in government-approved tour groups, stay in approved hotels, and follow specific approved itineraries to avoid contact with locals.

The first flight of what Palau calls a “sterile corridor” left Taipei on April 1. The travelers from Taiwan were greeted by Palau President Surangel Whipps upon arrival in Palau.



Rimi Natsukawa et al. posing for a photo: The president of Palau poses with travelers from Taiwan on April 1. RICHARD W. BROOKS/AFP via Getty Images


© RICHARD W. BROOKS/AFP via Getty Images
The president of Palau poses with travelers from Taiwan on April 1. RICHARD W. BROOKS/AFP via Getty Images

Both Taiwan and Palau have successfully contained the coronavirus. Taiwan has reported 1,047 cases and only 10 deaths, while Palau has reported zero cases.

Taiwan, a disputed island that China claims as its own territory, is only recognized by 15 countries and territories – including Palau – meaning that most of the world would not view this travel bubble as one between two independent nations.



map: The flight between Taiwan and Palau is about 3.5 hours. Google Maps


© Google Maps
The flight between Taiwan and Palau is about 3.5 hours. Google Maps

Taiwan’s and Palau’s tourism boards did not respond to Insider’s request for more details on the travel arrangement.

Video: Taiwan opens first travel bubble with Palau (Reuters)

Taiwan opens first travel bubble with Palau

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New hope for travel bubbles

Countries around the world have attempted different versions of quarantine-free travel bubbles to revitalize their economies in the pandemic, but not all have been successful.

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In September, a European travel bubble between neighboring Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania was dissolved after three months when Estonia had a new outbreak. In November, Singapore and Hong Kong nearly launched a bubble but postponed the plan at the last minute after cases started to rise in Hong Kong. For months, Singapore has allowed tourists from Australia, Brunei, mainland China, New Zealand, and Taiwan into the city-state without quarantining, but those places have not reciprocated.

The spring of 2021, however, seems to be bringing a renewed optimism in travel bubbles as vaccinations ramp up in many countries.

Despite the restrictions of the Taiwan-Palau travel corridor, many tourists returning to Taiwan said they were happy with the experience and thrilled to be able to travel after so long, according to Focus Taiwan.



a close up of Jacinda Ardern: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden announces plans for a travel bubble with Australia on April 6. Hagen Hopkins/Getty Image


© Hagen Hopkins/Getty Image
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden announces plans for a travel bubble with Australia on April 6. Hagen Hopkins/Getty Image

On Tuesday, Australia and New Zealand announced they would be launching a travel bubble on April 18. New Zealand