EU states trying to figure out travel vaccination requirements

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The passenger terminal at Tallinn Airport. Source: Sander Koit/ERR

Vaccination requirements imposed when traveling can differ greatly by country. There are some who make no exemptions, but also those who consider full immunity some time after the vaccine manufacturer's set time period. Discussions over a common set of regulations are still ongoing in Brussels.

One vaccine injection is not something to show off in Europe, unless it is the Janssen vaccine. But even if a week has passed since the person has been inoculated with a second dose and the manufacturer claims it is enough for full immunity to have developed, Europe is not quick to believe it. Iceland, for example, considers a person to be fully vaccinated 16 days after they have received their second dose.

The first medics to be vaccinated in Estonia in late December and early January should know that their inoculation is already expiring in Europe, as the vaccination certificate only lasts 180 days.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs undersecretary Märt Volmer told ERR that each state protects their public health as they know best and that is how different restrictions and exemptions are made.

"Do we want Brussels to decide what Estonia's coronavirus restrictions are? We actually do not. We have wanted for these decisions to be made in Estonia. That is how it has been across Europe, we have not wanted to give the EU this competence in matters of health," Volmer said.

Regardless, discussions are ongoing in Brussels to establish a common set of regulations from July, when the vaccine passport is set to become valid. That is also the position Estonia has taken.

"The southern countries - where the tourism industry is very large and where Europeans want to go for the summer - they are certainly for a more liberal approach of there being common rules and allowing people to travel. And the countries where the tourism industry is less important are more modest," Volmer noted.

Countries are sometimes even amending their requirements overnight and Montenegro decided last week to extend the period of immunity development from the initial seven days to 14.

"Both countries and airlines change those requirements every few weeks. We have noted this trend where these regulations are looked at each Thursday and Friday," said travel bureau Germalo Reisid project manager Piret Mayer.

This eventually led Germalo Reisid to hire a person who would keep an eye on these constantly changing requirements.

Although traveling at this time demands some homework to be done, the travel manager said it is a good time to go abroad. An Estonian group can be among the very few to be able to see the sights as mass tourism has not recovered worldwide yet.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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