EU launches digital green certificate Tuesday

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A suitcase with the coronavirus digital certificate. Source: SCANPIX / www.imago-images.de

The European Union's coronavirus digital certificate goes live Tuesday, and Estonia hopes to join the scheme next week. According to the recommendations published by the European Commission, EU member states should lift the quarantine requirement from arrivals who hold a valid digital certificate.

On June 1, the EU gateway solution will launch. All member states should join the digital gateway by 1 July at the latest, the commission's Tallinn office said on Monday, adding Estonia was doing so within days.

"Yes, Estonia is joining the digital gateway. In recent months, Estonia has made several preparations to adopt three EU digital COVID-19 certificates that meet EU requirements - vaccination, a negative PCR test certificate and a certificate based on a positive PCR test." Aurora Ursula Joala, Adviser on the Development and Innovation of e-Services of the Ministry of Social Affairs, told ERR.

Joala said the certificates corresponding to the new requirements will be available to people on the patient portal digilugu.ee from the middle of next week.

"In practice, this means that each digital COVID certificate contains a digitally signed QR code that contains relevant information about the certificate. The digital signature is created using the signer's cryptographic private key and the public key of the Health and Welfare Information Systems Center (TEHIK) in Estonia," Joala said.

Currently, the technical solutions regarding certification are the security tests at TEHIK.

Joala said that in the first weeks of June, Malta, Iceland, France, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Austria, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Lithuania, Italy, Sweden, Croatia, Belgium, Greece, Cyprus, Denmark, the Czech Republic and Portugal have also expressed their readiness to join the EU digital gateway solution.

"If the owner of a certificate presents his certificate in another Member State that has joined the EU Gateway, the public key of the issuing member state can verify its authenticity, integrity and validity, as this key is exchanged through the central gateway of the EU. A validated verification website that allows the validity of the certificate and the data to be checked by scanning the QR code on the COVID certificate. The user and the verifier of the certificate will assess whether the displayed data meets the requirements of the restrictions - for example, whether the COVID test result is given in the correct time frame," a representative of the Ministry of Social Affairs said.

European Commission: Restrictions on certificate holders could be removed

The European Commission published its updated recommendations where they call for relaxing restrictions as the infection rate decreases.

"At a time when the epidemiological situation is improving across the European Union, the Commission is recommending relaxing travel restrictions gradually for holders of the EU COVID-19 digital certificate," the Commission press service said.

According to the recommendations, people who have completed a vaccination course, who have recovered from COVID-19 and have a negative PCR test done in the last 72 hours, and/or who hold the EU's digital coronavirus certificate, should not be tested or required to remain in quarantine for 14 days.

The European Commission also proposed changes to the color-coded levels of infection. Areas marked in orange would be those where the 14-day infection rate per 100,000 inhabitants is up to 75 instead of the current 50, and in the red zone when the figure is 75-150 instead of 50-150.

Estonia's current figure lies at the upper edge of this limit in any case.

Areas with higher levels of infection would be marked in black. Areas with fewer than 25 infections per 100 000 inhabitants in the past 14 days would be marked in green.

The European Commission also made recommendations on what restrictions should apply to people coming from these areas.

There would be no restrictions for passengers arriving from green areas. member states could require a test for passengers arriving from the orange areas.

Passengers arriving from red areas could be required to be quarantined by the member states unless they have a negative test to present. However, people living in areas with higher levels of infection should be strongly advised to not travel.

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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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