Everything we know so far about vaccine passports: What are they and will you need one? 2 weeks ago

Everything we know so far about vaccine passports: What are they and will you need one?

From international travel to pubs and hair salons, here's everything you need to know about vaccine passports.

What are vaccine passports?

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Vaccine passports show whether someone has been vaccinated or recently tested negative for Covid-19.

The passports or certificates are still being discussed, however, there is a possibility that they could allow those who have been vaccinated to attend events and travel abroad earlier than expected.

How have they been put into effect so far?

The European Union proposed the "Digital Green Certificate," a vaccine passport that would allow travel to 27 member countries if approved. Meanwhile, China, Israel, the UAE, and the Philippines have all launched their own versions of the passport.

In Ireland, the easing of restrictions for fully vaccinated people has already begun as people from two households who have received their Covid-19 jabs are now allowed to socialise indoors without masks or distancing measures.

Similar methods have already been put into effect in certain countries who are hoping to welcome back fully vaccinated visitors this summer.

The Maldives Tourism Minister Abdulla Mausoom told CNBC that the country’s Health Protection Agency is set to make an announcement on offering restriction-free entry to fully vaccinated arrivals “very soon, maybe even this week.”

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Greece is also planning to welcome foreign tourists from Monday 19 April as adult travellers who can present a certificate that proves they have either had both doses of a vaccine, have antibodies, or have a valid negative test will be permitted to enter the country without quarantine.

Cypus has also said it will begin to open its borders to fully vaccinated tourists from May.

Will you need one to go to the pub or hair salon?

Acting Chief Medical Officer Doctor Ronan Glynn has said that there will be no need for vaccine passports if the current vaccination rollout goes according to plan.

Dr Glynn said that if the current goal of vaccinating 80% of the adult population by June is met, there won't be 'undue need' to prevent un-vaccinated people from having the same freedoms as those who have had their jab.

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Speaking at the Oireachtas Joint Health Committee on Tuesday he said: "I would look at it in a slightly different way, and I reiterated this on a number of occasions, which is if we can get approximately 80% of the adult population with at least one dose by June and if the disease is under control at that point, we will see a far greater level of society open at that point than where we are at this point.

"At that point, I would hope there wouldn't be an undue need on the island to differentiate between for example what you can do when you've been vaccinated and what you can do when you can't.

"For example, there has been some suggestion that maybe you can go and get a haircut if you're vaccinated, I'd hope that long before that if the disease remains under control, everyone will be able to go."

What do they mean for international travel?

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Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that EU travel may be possible over the summer for Irish people who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

"Vaccines will never be 100% effective, the world is full of viruses that can mutate," he said.

"Travel in the future will be different, I'm absolutely sure of that, but one of the things that we are examining that we hope to come to a decision on very soon is whether we can exempt people who have been fully vaccinated.

"The CDC in America and Doctor Fauci agree that people who are fully vaccinated should be exempt, you will get counter-arguments, people will say vaccines aren't 100% effective, that's true. People will say the virus can mutate, or say we don't have international certification, and people can fake documents, those things will always be true, so if those are your arguments there is no exit strategy.

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"I think the exit strategy is based on vaccination and the European Union is developing a green cert, and we could see within months people being able to travel freely within the European Union if they've been fully vaccinated, but we have to embrace the science."