The introduction of "covid passports" at EU level is expected by the end of June. However, according to new information, they could be introduced a little earlier.
At today's press conference of the National Civil Protection Headquarters, Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović announced that Croatia will be able to issue digital green certificates as of June 01, according to the new "EU certificate for COVID-19”Or so-called covid passports.
A political debate was held at the General Affairs Council meeting on 23 March, as well as at the European Council meeting. On 28 April, the European Parliament gave clear support to the proposals, and the Portuguese Presidency prepared compromise proposals.
It was at the last meeting in late April that EU lawmakers agreed that a new "EU certificate for COVID-19”And not the digital green certificate as the Commission called it, should be valid for 12 months, no longer than that.
The trialogue process begins, which should be completed within a week or two. Then follows the linguistic harmonization and adoption of the decree in mid-June, Božinović points out and adds: “They will be interoperable and will allow border verification and recognition of vaccination, recovery and testing certificates. Croatia is among the members piloting the development of a technical solution, which means that we are in an advanced stage of developing a national technical solution and that we are ready to test it with other members on the EU platform. The database, accuracy and entry of all data should be emphasized as certificates will be issued based on the databases of persons who have survived covid-19 in the last 180 days, who have been tested in the last 48 hours and persons who have been vaccinated", Said Božinović, reports Index.hr.
In early April, Croatia established a working group to develop a technical solution for cross-border interoperable digital green certificates in line with EU-level talks.
EU certificate for COVID-19 will be issued in PDF, and citizens will be able to submit requests through the system e-Citizens. Certificates will be delivered to their user boxes, while certificates in physical form will be issued in 150 branches of the Croatian Health Insurance Institute.
"Verification will be carried out by reading QR codes, and 250 certificate readers have already been deployed at border crossings. The entercroatia.mup website will also be upgraded, which would enable announcements of the arrival of foreign citizens. This would help to reduce the time for passing the border procedures ", states Božinović and adds that passengers can upload their confirmations in PDF on that page before arrival with the aim of verification as soon as possible.
"From June 1, we will be able to issue these certificates, which is important for our tourist season, but also the overall fight against the epidemic", Said Bozinovic.
When asked by journalists whether equalize test prices, or the tests will be free for children because they are not vaccinated, Krunoslav Capak pointed out that the State should decide on this.
"If you have not been vaccinated or have not recovered, you can get tested. Everyone can be tested and exercise all rights as well as these two categories. Everyone who is tested on a referral has the same prices. Those who test on their own initiative have different prices because it is a market category", Said Capak.
List of test points in Croatia
On the Safe Stay in Croatia page, there is list of test points throughout Croatia. Although it is not yet the final version, the list is updated day by day, it will be the main reference point with all the important information for tourists to test, as well as covid protocols in general.
Also, as stated by the Minister of Tourism and Sports, Nikolina Brnjac, from the budget of the Ministry, 20 million kuna will be allocated for the subsidy of tests. The final list of all testing points is still pending, as well as the question of testing prices, as prices still vary from destination to destination. Which is definitely not good.
According to the latest price list of PCR and rapid antigen tests, published by the CNIPH, the prices are:
- Test for SARS-Cov-2 RT-PCR - unit price HRK 500,00
- Rapid antigen test for COVID-19 - unit price 150,00 kn
- Translation of the findings into English - unit price 125,00 kn
Should Croatia cover the cost of testing for foreign tourists, if what Austria will do?
In my opinion certainly. This is the best investment in marketing, and we know how much we depend on tourism. So, this is not a cost, but an investment. Because the more tourists come this summer, the more tourist spending will be generated, as well as ultimately better revenues for the state. Fight literally for every guest!
If you are not going to go for the option of covering the costs of testing, it would certainly be good if the prices are the same throughout Croatia.
Austria introduces free tests for tourists
Tests for coronavirus in Austria will be free for foreigners to encourage tourism, said the Austrian Minister of Tourism Elisabeth Koestinger and pointed out that tourists have in the past looked for places that offered free wifi or parking, but that this summer they want to know if coronavirus testing is free.
"Free coronavirus tests are crucial for reservations. It is in the interest of the state for tourists to come to us", Said the Minister of Tourism. Tourism in Austria will accelerate again from 19 May when quarantine for most arrivals is lifted.
Also, the European Parliament is discussing possible lifting of entry restrictions for vaccinating passengers. More on that in the attachment.
The European tourism sector welcomes the adoption of the decision on the EU Certificate for COVID-19
European airlines, airports and the tourism sector welcome the adoption of the decision on Regulation on digital green certificates proposed by the European Commission to the European Parliament, initiating negotiations between Parliament, the Council and the European Commission, UHPA-e.
Rapid action and harmonization between institutions is now crucial so that certifications can be launched by June and ensure interoperability with systems outside the EU. Common, interoperable, safe and GDPR health provisions are a key tool to facilitate the free movement of people within the EU and to reopen travel in a safe and responsible way through the easing and eventual abolition of current travel restrictions.
Rapid and coordinated action by the institutions is now crucial to launching the operation of the certificate in June. Certificates that are unique, secure and in line with the provisions of the GDPR are a key tool to facilitate the free movement of European citizens and reopen travel on the continent, while easing and finally lifting the restrictions currently in force.
Parliament's position makes important changes to the Commission's original proposal:
- A new name has been agreed, "EU Certificate for COVID-19", in order to make the purpose of the certificate clearer to the citizens, ie that its purpose is not to be a 'travel document'.
- Free and available testing: testing is absolutely crucial in the fight against COVID-19, and the requirement to conduct pre-departure testing (often PCR) should not discriminate economically against passengers. With tests ranging from 10 to 150 euros, the cost of testing should not be a deterrent to travel - this is especially true for family travel. Likewise, Member States should "provide universal, affordable, timely and free testing to their tourists".
- Full equality of vaccinated and tested citizens: Passengers presenting a valid "EU Certificate for COVID-19" may not be subject to any additional measures such as quarantine or additional testing.
The certificate, which can be in digital or paper form, will serve as evidence to the wearer that he has been vaccinated against coronavirus, that he has recently received a negative test result, or that he has already overcome COVID-19.
While confirmation alone will not be enough to fully restore free movement in Europe, Parliament's proposed amendments are a step in the right direction, according to leading tourism professional associations in Brussels. Free movement is not a privilege, but a right that applies not only to tourists, but also to cross-border workers and citizens who will be able to visit their families more easily once the certificates are fully operational.
The sector therefore calls for swift action to carry out pilot testing by mid-May and allow the system to launch in June.
Finally, it is important to emphasize once again that "covid passports", ie digital green certificates, must not and are not the only condition for travel! Covid passports are just a means to make it easier and faster for citizens who have been vaccinated to cross borders. This does not mean that passengers who have not or do not want to be vaccinated cannot travel. They can, but must have proof of a negative test as before, in accordance with the border crossing conditions currently in force for each state.
Croatia open to tourists
On the other hand, at the end of April, Croatia decided that persons coming from the EU or the Schengen area could enter on the basis of rapid antigen test so they will not have to repeat the test if they stay in Croatia for more than 10 days. Namely, fast tests have improved and now have a sensitivity of over 90 percent.
Also, people who are overcame covid or are vaccinated with a single dose will be exempted from the obligation to present a negative test or quarantine upon entry into Croatia.
Croatia is ready for the summer season
In conclusion, with the introduction of the "EU Certificate for COVID-19", a list of test sites, mobile teams, Safe stay tag, Enter Croatia platform, vaccination of tourism workers, as well as the general population that is accelerated, open borders - Croatia is certainly ready for this summer season, at least as far as all basic protocols are concerned.
Of course, it is crucial that field testing works logistics and infrastructure, not to happen as last year when field teams shot at the seams and did not have time to receive larger quantities of testing requests. One is the form and protocols, and the other is the content, ie implementation.
Also, more changes are awaited on the Re-open.hr platform so that Croatia will no longer exist divided into two regions rather than by counties.