Consular service chief says vaccination brings hope for revival of travel

Ljubljana – Andrej Šter, the head of the Foreign Ministry’s consular service, told the STA in an interview that vaccination brought hope that coronavirus restrictions to travelling could be gradually eased. He believes a unified vaccination certificate will be required to restore travelling within the EU.

“A big hope and potential can be detected in the fast process of vaccination of citizens,” Šter said, noting that vaccination provided much greater certainty that a person is not infected than tests.

Coronavirus tests paint a very relative picture of individual’s health, while vaccination proves for about six months or maybe a bit more than a person is not ill, he explained.

He finds Greece’s proposal for a standardised certificate on Covid-19 vaccination that would contribute to the revival of travel in the EU a very good idea. “But the path from an idea to its realisation is quite demanding and quite a few steps will need to be taken,” he said.

A formate of such a certificate will need to be set. All measures will also need to be taken to make it credible, because “it will be interesting for those who travel to make a living or those who supply the less credible documents of this kind,” he warned.

Šter thinks the EU must prepare for this and prepare ground for travel organisations, those conducting border and airport control, and those providing air and other transport services to relaunch their activities.

“This will be the beginning of a process that will probably take quite a while. This will not change with individual gestures but will entail a lot of work. It will in particular … require a great amount of mutual trust.

“Countries will have to set up a system, where they will know that a person they can trust is on the other side and that they did their job thoroughly and well.”

If everyone got very actively involved in the setting up of a system of issuing certificates and if the vaccination process ran smoothly, the first results, meaning easing of travel restrictions, could be expected as early as this summer. But Šter warns this is an “awfully ambitious goal”.

The setting up of a standardised vaccination certificate will require a lot of coordination among EU countries, which have in recent days been introducing various changes for crossing their border to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

Austria for example introduced an obligatory electronic registration as of Friday, with some exceptions, including daily migrants. Šter said this measure was undoubtedly introduced with the best intentions, but had not been coordinated with other EU countries.

The consular service advises everyone who inquires about travelling options and rules for individual countries these days to consider postponing non-essential trips. Currently, travelling is allowed for health reasons or urgent business matters, he noted.