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Vaccine passports gain traction across Europe

They're backed by the aviation sector – but could vaccine ‘passports’ also be the key to getting live music going again?

By IQ on 14 Jan 2021

Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine

Poland has become the latest European concert market to confirm it will issue its citizens with a vaccine certificate, or ‘passport’, when they have been immunised against Covid-19, as the idea gains traction across the continent.

While the issuing of vaccine passports is largely aimed at restarting cross-border travel, there are hopes the live music industry could also benefit, with promoters and venues able to Covid-safe their shows by requiring proof of vaccine status for all those attending.

In Poland, after being successfully vaccinated (which, in the case of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, is after the second jab) people will be issued with an electronic QR code downloadable from their personal account on the government website or public health system, according to Polish deputy health minister Anna Goławska.

Yesterday (13 January)’s announcement comes a day after confirmation of a similar, government-funded trial in the UK, where vaccinations began in the second week of December.

However, while the British government says at this stage there are “no plans” to roll out vaccine passports on a wider basis beyond the trial, Denmark has confirmed it will issue official documentation showing vaccine status, in a move that has received the backing of live music association Dansk Live.

The Danish ministry of health will launch its own Covid-19 vaccine passport in the coming weeks, DR reports, with the electronic documentation updated over time as new knowledge about the vaccinations – for how long they are effective, for example – emerges.

“I think many festivals would use these”

“I think many festivals would use these,” says Dansk Live’s Esben Marcher tells DR, “because it can help to ensure that outbreaks don’t occur due to staging an event.”

In Switzerland, meanwhile, Stefan Breitenmoser, head of the Swiss Music Promoters’ Association (SMPA), has said his members would similarly support a vaccine passport there, cautiously welcoming an idea which is fast gaining ground, according to France TV, though has yet to receive official approval.

“Vaccination could, one day, be one of the measures which would allow people to attend live events,” he says, adding that more information is still required on “the protection offered by vaccinations against the virus”.

In addition to the concert sector, vaccine passports are popular with airlines, with aviation having been similarly hard-hit by the economic shutdown around the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this week, the Greek government wrote to European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen to urge the adoption of vaccine passports at an EU level, though experts believe the idea to have little chance of success, with vaccine-sceptical countries such as France already having ruled out such a move.

In November, Ticketmaster rebuffed reports it could deny access to non-vaccinated attendees when events restart, saying the decision remains with the promoter.


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