PPA: Some border crossings lacking phones to check QR-codes

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Vaccination certificate QR code. Source: ERR

The Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) admitted that there is a lack of phones in busier border crossing points that could be used to check travelers' vaccination certificates.

PPA's north prefecture border guard bureau chief Indrek Aru told ERR that vaccination can be confirmed with a vaccination certificate, its copy or by presenting sufficient proof. A printed certificate from another countries' database is also valid, if the database is confirmed. Travelers can also prove their vaccination process with an immunization pass that can be requested from a healthcare provider.

Vaccination and negative coronavirus certificates are checked in the airports of most countries. Some flight companies require a vaccination pass or a negative PCR test before boarding.

Aru said PPA is continuing spot checks on travelers from so-called green countries by asking them which country they started their journey from. The board is also advising people and asking for more information, if necessary. If it becomes clear that the traveler used a "green" country as transit and started their journey from a so-called "red" country, a movement restriction is imposed on them. All travelers are checked in Tallinn Airport, Port of Tallinn and Estonia's eastern border.

The PPA official explained that the board is using an application created by the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Health and Welfare Information System (TEHIK) to check the QR-codes on vaccination certificates. He added that since the certificates contain personal data, it is not possible to check them with a widely available third-party app.

"A majority of police officials already have devices that support checking QR-codes, but for checks at the airport, the port, or the eastern border to go faster, the social affairs ministry's IT and development center (SMIT) is preparing a tender to acquire more phones. There is a lack of phones that can be used to check certificates in busier border crossings," Aru said.

"An important clause in the tender is that the phones would be safe and that they could be configured in accordance with the data protection and security requirements in force at the PPA. We saw a lack of phones in the spring of this year and our IT-partner SMIT has been preparing the tender. According to Agne Alja, SMIT's acting director in support services, the delivery date for phones is around mid-August," Aru added.

The PPA official said there are many options to check the travel documents of people exiting Estonia.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Health Board has forwarded examples of vaccination certificates from other countries. It is also possible to read QR-codes by using devices available to police officers. We can check certificates issued in Estonia through their respective creator, such as Synlab," Aru said.

He added that if the traveler is obligated to self-isolate, PPA will notify the Health Board of the violation and the board will then decide on initiating court proceedings in the traveler's homeland.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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