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Green pass: Which countries in Europe require a COVID vaccine pass to get around?

Italy has recently tightened its green pass rules for travelling around the country.
Italy has recently tightened its green pass rules for travelling around the country.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Andrew Medichini
By Shannon McDonagh  & Tim Gallagher

As Europe heads into winter, many countries still require proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter bars, restaurants and other public spaces.

Each country has a slightly different plan for how the passes work, they go by different names and the rules are regularly updated. So make sure you check out the latest restrictions before travelling to any of these locations.

Here’s a guide to what a hospitality vaccine pass could mean for your next trip.

What is a hospitality green pass and why is it needed?

A green pass, first used in Israel, is a paper document or app that proves the holder has been fully vaccinated or recovered from COVID. It grants them access to indoor restaurants, bars, cafes and other indoor venues.

They are not needed for outdoor hospitality and gatherings since outdoor transmission of COVID has proven to be low, provided social distancing is observed.

Is a green pass different from the European Covid Digital Certificate (EUDCC)?

In some cases, no. The EUDCC currently operates as a travel pass across EU member nations, verifying a person’s vaccination status in order to facilitate trips across the continent.

Some countries are using their own apps or paper documentation created before the existence of the EUDCC. Other countries are happy to use the EUDCC as the vaccination data is already present and available, streamlining the process.

Why have there been protests against Green Passes?

AFP
Protesters walk past a restaurant as they take part in a demonstration in Milan against the introduction of mandatory green passAFP

Not everyone has welcomed the introduction of green passes with open arms. Some citizens believe they are an infringement on civil liberties and will allow bars and restaurants to “discriminate” against those that don’t wish to receive the vaccine.

Business owners are also conscious these measures are being enforced with little time for them to vaccinate themselves and their staff members.

"I am not fully vaccinated myself, my sister and a few other staff are not fully vaccinated, so we just cannot take the chance," Irish publican Kevin Kavanagh told the BBC upon hearing the news of the Republic’s plans to implement a green pass with just a few days' notice.

Which countries in the EU are using a green pass and how can you get one?

The current guidance is that visitors should go through the same process as residents or citizens to obtain their green pass. We will update this article if different rules are announced.

Austria

Entry to eateries, theatres, hotels, sports facilities and places for personal grooming requires proof of vaccination, a negative test, or certificate of recovery from COVID-19.

More information can be found here.

Belgium

Brussels residents are required to show their health pass in bars, restaurants and fitness clubs as well as at trade fairs to prove that they have been vaccinated or have recently tested negative for COVID-19. This came into place on 1 October.

Tourists and Belgian residents attending outdoor events of 1,500 people or more can apply for a COVID Safe Ticket which will exempt them from mask-wearing or social distancing.

To be eligible for the ticket you need to have been fully vaccinated for two weeks, have proof of recovery from COVID-19 in the last six months, have a negative PCR test (valid on the day of the test and for two days after) or a negative antigen test (valid on the day of the test and for one day after that).

The COVID Safe Ticket was extended to indoor events of 1,500 people or more from September 1.

Find out more here.

Cyprus

Anyone visiting indoor restaurants, bars and other venues in Cyprus must have a Coronapass, also known as a Safe Pass, documenting proof of vaccination for over three weeks or a negative test. This is an app that differs from the EUDCC and is used separately.

More information can be found here.

France

President Emmanuel Macron ordered by decree that visitors to all indoor hospitality venues with a capacity larger than 50 are now required to show a green pass.

As of August 9, people living in France have also needed a green pass to attend events with a capacity of over 1000 people. They are issued to those fully vaccinated from COVID-19 or those that have recovered from it in the past six months. People with negative PCR and antigen tests less than 48 hours old are also able to access the green pass.

Macron recently added another requirement: as of December 15, French residents aged 65 and above will need a booster jab to keep their vaccine passport (as the green pass is otherwise known) valid.

More information can be found here.

Germany

Most people entering indoor hospitality spaces in Germany must now be vaccinated, recovered, or tested negative against COVID-19 and show proof of this through the EUDCC.

Children under the age of six and those regularly tested as part of their schooling are exempt from this.

German policymakers state that green passes are mandatory in areas with over 35 COVID cases per 100,000 people.

This comes after Chancellor Angela Merkel's chief of staff conceded that it'll be much easier in the future for vaccinated people to "have more freedoms" when attending large scale events like concerts and sports matches.

Germany has also introduced a 2G and 3G system for different venues. Many places are displaying signs showing they have a 2G policy (meaning only people who are vaccinated or recovered can go in) as opposed to 3G, for those who only have a negative test.

More information can be found here.

Greece

The Greek Covid Pass app is designed to check customers' "safe" status and verifies whether an individual has been vaccinated, recovered from COVID or has recent negative PCR or antigen test results. The Covid Pass app is required to enter restaurants, cafes and bars.

The Greek government has a separate scheme - the Freedom Pass - designed to encourage 18 - 25 years olds to get vaccinated.

Find out more information here.

Hungary

The Hungarian vaccine card is still being used for citizens locally, to gain entrance to large outdoor events despite most restrictions being eased. It can also be used in various bilateral agreements with countries like Albania, Turkey, and Morocco.

It is now also compatible with the EU Digital COVID Certificate.

More information about Hungary's rules for international and internal travel can be found here.

Israel

Israel was the first country to introduce the 'green pass' initiative as early as February 2021. In June, authorities decided to scrap the model.

However, last month Israel took steps to extend its COVID-19 restrictions following a spike thought to be a result of the Delta variant. This involves the return of the green pass, which applies to most events and leisure activities.

It has also become the first country to make a third (booster) jab a requirement for getting the pass.

People will have to show proof they are vaccinated, have recovered from COVID-19, or tested negative for the virus in the past 72 hours, in order to enter most public spaces.

Italy

A COVID-19 green pass is required for all public, indoor venues in Italy.

This includes cinemas, exhibition centres, gyms, museums, theatres, stadiums, and swimming pools.

The Italian COVID certificate will also be required to attend wedding receptions and visit high-risk individuals such as those in care homes.

As of September 2021, the Italian Green Pass is also mandatory for passengers on public transport, teachers, and university students. Earlier this week it was announced that the rules around train travel and transport will be tightened further.

It provides proof that the holder has either received at least one dose of the vaccine, has recovered from the virus or tested negative in the previous 48 hours. It acts as an extension of the EUDCC and permits people above the age of 12 to attend hospitality venues and large gatherings such as museums, private parties, and sporting events.

The pass is issued to people who have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, those who have recently recovered from the disease, and people who can present a negative test taken less than 48 hours before the event they are attending.

More information can be found here.

Latvia

Latvian authorities have fully integrated the Latvia COVID pass (or green pass) into the European Union’s COVID Certificate verification system.

High-risk events and venues which may require proof of COVID-19 vaccination, recovery or a negative test include concerts, cinemas, and theatres.

Latvia’s COVID pass app 'COVID19Verify' allows for the verification of vaccine certificates, even offline.

The app allows certificate holders to enter certain establishments and make use of public facilities. For indoor spaces, social distancing and masks are still a requirement in Latvia.

Cultural events can also take place once more if the necessary restrictions are adhered to. This also includes visits to museums and libraries.

The country emerged out of another lockdown on November 15.

More information about Latvia's rules for international and internal travel can be found here.

Luxembourg

Customers with a digital vaccination certificate or the app CovidCheck are permitted to use indoor hospitality until 1am without restrictions. Those without must wear face masks and practice social distancing.

Attendees to all public social and cultural events must also present CovidCheck or EUDCC verification in either electronic or paper form.

More information can be found here.

Netherlands

At the start of November the Netherlands announced it will be tightening measures in response to rising cases.

COVID-19 entry passes are now required at more locations, including restaurants, theatres and sport venues. They can be generated using the CoronaCheck phone app for those who are fully vaccinated, have valid proof of recovery or a negative test result less than 24 hour before. An entry pass on paper is also accepted.

More information can be found here.

Portugal

It is mandatory to present a EUDCC certificate or negative test when entering tourist accommodation (upon check-in), spas, group gym classes, casinos, and cultural events with over 500 people indoors or 1000 people outdoors.

Restaurants no longer require proof of a COVID vaccination or a negative test on Friday evenings, weekends or on public holidays.

The latest information can be found here.

Republic of Ireland

Pubs, cafes, and restaurants can only serve people with EUDCC passes indoors.

This can be presented in digital or paper form. Alternatively, customers that can show proof of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 6 months are also welcome.

More information can be found here.

Slovenia

In September, the Slovenian government made it mandatory to display a COVID passport to enter restaurants, hospitals, petrol stations, shopping centres, and various other public places.

Masks are mandated for all people indoors and outdoors, when a safe distance cannot be maintained. School pupils will also have to wear masks indoors.

More information can be found here.

Spain

Although Spain as a whole has not introduced a green pass requirement, the region of Galicia and the Canary Islands have. People living here will have to prove they are vaccinated, have recovered or have a recent negative test via a COVID Digital Certificate.

Face coverings are still encouraged in enclosed indoor and outdoor spaces.

In Andalucía, theatres, cinemas, auditoriums, places of worship, and concert halls have returned to 100 per cent capacity and restaurants are allowing up to eight guests per party.

In the Balearic Islands, they have announced that holders of the digital green pass in Spain will not need to fill in the special request form to enter the islands.

Employers on the Canary Islands are allowed to refuse workers entrance to their premises if they do not show proof of vaccination, recovery, or negative test results. In addition to that, nightlife venues are open but no dancing is allowed.

Galicia also has complex rules regarding hospitality capacity. The Spanish Supreme Court recently ruled that Galician authorities may be allowed to implement a proof of vaccination requirement for bars and restaurants should the epidemiological situation require it.

Madrid has taken a huge step towards normality, allowing indoor hospitality venues to operate at 75 per cent capacity and outdoor spaces at 100 per cent. Restaurants can also operate until 2am and nightclubs and cocktail bars until 6 am, just like before the pandemic.

Murcia has also reopened nightlife venues and 6 people may dine together indoors.

The Valencian Community has removed the curfew completely and nightlife venues can operate until 3am. Bars, restaurants, and cafes need to stop serving at midnight.

Valencian authorities are also currently discussing the potential implementation of a COVID pass requirement.

More information can be found here.

Have you got your green pass for a country you are travelling to? What was the process like? Share your experience with us on Instagram.