The Green Passport could be introduced in Austria as early as the end of May. State Secretary Magnus Brunner gave a concrete date for the first time. The tourism and travel industry is delighted.
Travel should become possible again in the summer thanks to the Green Passport, which certifies vaccination, test and antibody status. But the Green Passport “only makes sense if the quarantine regulations are lifted,” says State Secretary Magnus Brunner (ÖVP). “At the end of May, around the 24th” the Green Pass could go into operation, “by then it must be clear what the quarantine regulations are.” Only when these are lifted will cross-border travel be possible, he said.
Green Pass also for gastronomy
The green passport, which is also important for access to gastronomy, will be available on paper and electronically as a QR code. However, vaccinations are not valid immediately with the second sting; there are EU regulations according to which the vaccination protection, for example at AstraZeneca, only takes effect 22 days later, Brunner said in response to questions. He also said he could not completely rule out the possibility of vacationers suddenly being confronted with quarantine rules on their return home because of Corona outbreaks at their vacation destination, as was the case last year. However, in light of broad vaccination programs and testing opportunities, he said he does not currently expect that to happen. Whether the Green Passport will be sent to vaccinated persons or whether they will have to apply for it has not yet been decided, but Austria has the advantage, for example in comparison with the USA, that all vaccinations are registered.
Green passport vital for tourism
For the tourism industry, Gregor Kadanka, chairman of the Association of Travel Agencies in the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber, pointed out that, in addition to the “technical instrument” of the green passport, the concrete travel requirements such as quarantine are of particular importance. Other vacation countries have already announced that they will open their borders in May or early June, he said. For the 2,600 travel agencies that have been “in hibernation since last March,” however, it will take even longer for business to be as good as it was before the pandemic. After all, he said, they are talking about sales declines of more than 90 percent, and in some cases even total cancellations. “In total, we are far behind”, it is high time to think about the summer.
Vaccinations necessary for travel?
Bettina Ganghofer, president of the Austrian Airports Association, also has high hopes for the green passport. Requiring vaccinations for travel is also nothing fundamentally new, she said; this has always been the case for some countries. “Ideally,” he said, the check for the green passport will work like a passport check, but there are also “separate considerations,” especially at Vienna Airport, which is Austria’s largest test airport.
She said the airports are currently facing revenue declines of 90 percent or more, but have been able to retain most of their highly specialized 45,000 employees thanks to short-time work and are therefore poised for a rapid recovery. The airlines’ planned flight schedule for the summer could still change, “but what is planned is really bombastic,” Ganghofer said.
— sources: APA and vienna.at/picture: pixabay.com
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