All change for airline passengers with Covid Digital Certificates … but not in Portugal

According to new EU ‘rules’ (which are essentially recommendations), today is the moment that airline passengers with valid Covid Digital Certificates can fly anywhere in community space without being bound by “any other forms of extraordinary restrictions to contain the pandemic”.

But things haven’t quite panned out like that. Portugal is still requiring incoming visitors to show proof of a negative test for Covid-19 – and fining them and the airline they travelled on, if they don’t.

This practice has been in place since December 1, and is set to remain until February 9. Admittedly, television news reports are suggesting the government may pre-empt the deadline with a new announcement (to the effect that it will be falling in line with EU policy), but for the time being, Portugal’s rules are Portugal’s rules (not recommendations) – and they have been very effective in accruing fines, whether or not these have actually been paid.

As of January 31, more than 2,800 passengers had reportedly been fined for not arriving with the required negative test validation, and 41 airlines face paying out a minimum of €20,000 per passenger for not having ensured people had the correct paperwork before embarkation.

Meantime, the stories today announcing the new EU policy add to confusion by insisting that “passengers must (still) inform themselves of the rules in place in each of the countries they travel to”.

Another grey areas is the fact that Covid Digital Certificates are to have a validity period of nine months, “counting from the conclusion of people’s first inoculations of vaccine”.

This is far from ‘clear’, in as much as the nine month deadline “does not apply to the certificates of booster jabs”.

Then comes the final punchline in today’s reports: “Specialists forecast that the majority of Europeans will gain natural immunity due to contact with the virus, or that they will develop protection through vaccination. For this reason, various Member States have already announced the lifting of impositions and restrictions in place…” regardless of the EU ‘recommendations’.