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TRAVEL NEWS

How the rules of the EU Covid certificate for travel will change from February

As infection rates surge in parts of Europe, the EU will limit the validity of its flagship Covid-19 certificate to nine months. The pass is designed to allow for restriction free travel within the bloc but certain countries are stepping up restrictions.

A customer shows her Green Pass on a mobile phone in a central Rome bar
How the EU could change its Covid certificate for travel Photo: Andreas SOLARO / AFP

Since it was rolled out in July the EU’s Covid certificate has allowed for those vaccinated, recovered or who tested negative for Covid, to travel freely within the bloc without the need for subsequent tests or quarantine.

However with cases now surging across the EU and the consensus between member states fractured as certain countries impose new travel restrictions, the European Commission has adopted new rules on the validity of the Covid-19 travel pass.

The Commission on Tuesday adopted rules that will make the certificate valid for just nine months after the holder became fully vaccinated, Reuters reported.

That means after two shots of a two dose vaccine such as Pfizer or Moderna or after one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vacccine.

After a booster shot, the validity of the COVID-19 pass will be extended further without a set limit.

The new rule could still be blocked by a qualified majority of EU governments or a simple majority of European Parliament members, but Reuters reports that officials have said there is sufficient support for it.

If passed, the new rules will be binding on the 27 EU states from Feb 1st.

 
Once the rule is in place in February, EU member states will be obliged to let fully vaccinated travellers with a valid pass enter the country. However individual countries could still impose further requirements, such as negative tests or quarantines, as long as they are proportionate.

Seven EU states are currently requiring fully vaccinated travellers from other EU countries to also show a negative test upon arrival, measures some see as damaging the credibility of the EU pass, Reuters reports.

Those countries are Italy, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Latvia, Cyprus and Austria.

Under the harmonised system the Covid certificates, which can be on paper or stored electronically on smartphones –  carry proof via a QR code that the holder has either:
  • been vaccinated against Covid-19
  • recently recovered from the virus (meaning the holder has antibodies in their system)
  • recently tested negative for Covid 
But a time limit for their use was never set and with studies revealing that immunity via vaccination wears off after six or seven months there has been increased pressure to add a duration length to the certificates as well as include mention of booster shots.
 
Given that borders are national competence not an EU one member states have always been allowed to introduce their own Covid entry rules and restrictions.
 
Separate to the harmonised EU travel agreement many member states such as France and Italy have made vaccine passes compulsory for entry into leisure venues such as bars and restaurants. 

Member comments

  1. Please change the picture – the lady holding out the phone has her crappy medical mask completely off her nose – not a good advert for adherence to the rules!

      1. It’s a matter of degree – without any masks, things would be much worse – but see my answer above regarding still allowing these masks vs only FFP2 masks

        1. Richard – out if interest, what triggers you pointing out to change the picture or to recommend to wear a FFP2 mask? Does it make you feel uncomfortable? Do you expect others to compensate for your fears? You might have an underlying condition you want to bring up with a healthcare professional. Take care and stay safe!

          1. Aah! I see that you have seen through my disguise. I am indeed a deranged ex-pat out to foment contestation, and eventually, with my long haired white cat at my side, seek to rule the world! Muhahaha
            Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and yours!

  2. The masks are not 100% in preventing infection, of course, but they do significantly reduce transmission. Really unhelpful to suggest otherwise.

    1. My main point was that she is wearing the mask incorrectly, so it is not effective. As to “crappy”, the FFP2 mask should have been made the only acceptable mask as soon as supplies were sufficient, yet many people wear these much inferior masks because they are still allowed to, even though FFP2 masks are vastly more effective.

  3. You are right Johanna, Masks don’t work. It’s has been proven, yet those in power refuse to look at the real science.

    1. Glenn, all those surgeons wearing masks during operations must be fashion statements, can’t possibly be because they work.

      1. The surgical masks are to prevent spittle from entering an open wound. That’s all. Now when doctors are working with dangerous infectious diseases they wear much more extensive protective gear.

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TRAVEL NEWS

10 francs: Everything you need to know about Flixtrain’s Basel to Berlin line

In early May, German transport provider Flixtrain announced it would begin running services from Basel to Berlin (and back) from June. Here’s what you need to know.

10 francs: Everything you need to know about Flixtrain's Basel to Berlin line

German transport provider Flixtrain has announced it will launch in Switzerland from June 23rd. The low-cost provider is offering 10 franc (10 euro) tickets from Basel to Berlin, among other cheap fares.

The low-cost company, which has been establishing itself Deutsche Bahn’s major competitor Germany over the past few years, runs long distance bus and train services. 

When will the services run?

The lines to and from Basel run from Thursday to Monday, with one connection per day in either direction. 

It will take 8 hours and 45 minutes from Basel Badischer Bahnhof to Berlin Hauptbahnhof. 

A trip with the German ICE will instead take just over 7 hours. 

The new line is part of an expansion of services which is set to include around 70 destinations in Germany. 

OK but will it really cost CHF10?

The price of the ticket grabbed headlines, with Flixtrain saying in its press conference that the almost-nine-hour trip would only cost CHF10 (10 euro). 

Flixtrain spokesperson Sebastian Meyer told Swiss news outlet Watson that tickets would start at CHF10, but more expensive tickets would be available when the CHF10 offerings were sold out. 

“If the cheapest ticket contingent is sold out, the next higher one takes effect. In this way, we can always offer our passengers cheap tickets. Affordable prices are still possible due to the corresponding utilisation of the individual trips.”

In order to get the cheapest possible fare, travellers are advised to book early. 

REVEALED: How to find cheap train tickets in Switzerland

Tickets between Basel and Berlin can cost as high as CHF150 or 160 euros from Switzerland’s SBB or Germany’s Deutsche Bahn respectively, although booking in advance can bring the price down to as low as CHF30. 

Where will the train to (and from) Berlin stop?

In either direction, the train will stop at: Karlsruhe, Baden-Baden, Offenburg, Freiburg, Wiesloch, Bad Hersfeld and Weil am Rhein. 

What else is different about Flixtrain?

Other than being bright lime green, Flixtrains allow you to take your bicycle with you, which is not allowed on most ICE long-distance trains in Germany. 

Are there any other destinations within Switzerland? 

As yet, Basel will be the only Swiss destination. The other two new routes are Stuttgart to Hamburg and Berlin to Weisbaden. 

In addition to the 10 franc (10 euro) ticket from Basel to Berlin, other journeys within Germany will start at 5 francs (5 euros). 

More information is available from Flixtrain at the following link. 

The expanded routes can be seen in the following image. 

A look at Flixtrain’s route network in 2022. Map: Flixtrain

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