BRUSSELS (AP): European Union countries approved Tuesday extending the use of COVID-19 certificates by one year until the end of June 2023 as cases of the deadly virus start to grow again ahead of the summer holiday season.
Aimed at facilitating travel across the 27-nation bloc during the pandemic, the certificates entered into force in July last year and have been a successful tool to help EU citizens move in the region in coronavirus times without restrictions such as quarantines. EU countries have issued nearly 2 billion certificates.
The document attests that a person has been vaccinated against coronavirus or that they have a recent negative test result or have recovered from the infection.
The European Council said the regulation can be lifted earlier. But after most EU countries removed coronavirus restrictions over the past months in light of the improved health situation, a recent increase in infections fueled by new variants is leading governments to rethink their strategies.
In France, for instance, health minister Brigitte Bourguignon recommended this week that people wear masks again in crowded areas and on public transport.