Covid-19 travel passes have become an international sticking point as countries and citizens continue to face travel restrictions unless they provide proof of vaccination or a negative test.
Parts of the world, including North America and the European Union, have started to ease restrictions as many of their populations have been vaccinated. This allows businesses to introduce Covid-19 passes, preventing citizens and travelers from entering unless they can show proof of vaccination.
As countries like South Africa lag behind in the roll-out of their vaccines, they risk being left behind as they cannot introduce similar systems.
There are also concerns that a Covid-19 pass might not only be limited to travel, with some countries seeing a pass as a requirement for events and eat at the restaurant inside.
Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the United States, said Bhekisisa that more businesses are likely to need a pass to enter an establishment or even work in a business in the future.
While this is a possibility in the United States – which has a high proportion of its population vaccinated – Fauci said until there is vaccine equity, it will be difficult to implement a pass. at an international level.
“There are requirements (vaccination passport) at the international level – for example, there are African countries that I have visited where you cannot enter the country unless you have a yellow fever certificate”, a- he declared.
“But the yellow fever vaccine is available to everyone in the world, so you don’t discriminate against certain people. I think you need to have equity capital before doing this (implementing Covid vaccine passports) internationally. “
IATA travel pass on maps for South Africa
Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said his department was working with business to ensure South Africa’s successful reopening for international travel.
Presenting his departmental budget speech In late May, Mbalula said South Africa needs to ensure it joins the growing number of countries that accept the International Air Transport Association (IATA) mobile pass.
The Travel Pass is a mobile application that helps travelers store and manage their verified certifications for Covid-19 tests or vaccines.
It is safer and more efficient than current paper-based processes used to manage healthcare requirements, IATA said. This is important given the potentially huge scale of vaccine testing or verification that must be managed in a secure manner.
IATA said it aims to introduce new changes, including allowing QR codes to be scanned by immigration officials.
A mapping tool developed by the Skyscanner travel website shows that as of August 16, South Africa has 86 “major restrictions” from other countries.
These countries have suspended travel, may be closed to entry or entry is only possible if you are a citizen / meet strict entry requirements.
By comparison, there are currently 27 moderate restrictions in South Africa, where travel is possible, but only if travelers meet certain entry requirements, including passing Covid-19 tests.
Read: Pushing for an easing of lockdown restrictions in South Africa