E.U. to Allow COVID Certificates to Expire Without Booster

The European Union will require people to receive their booster shots in order to keep their COVID-19 passes in member states valid. The group announced on Tuesday, December 21 that all vaccine certificates will expire after nine months from their original issue, according to The New York Times.

The new rules will come into force on February 1, 2022 and aim to standardize the procedure across the bloc. That said, some countries—including Italy and Austria—have already set limits on their own COVID certificates, while others, like France, are set to introduce their own similar regulations. Note: Even with the rules, individual countries can still decide whether to require visitors to quarantine or show proof of a negative test upon entry.

The certificates first launched in the E.U. in July; they enabled vaccinated travelers or those with proof of recent recovery or proof of a recent negative PCR test to travel freely throughout the bloc.

Currently, the Omicron variant is spiking cases across Europe, with France, Germany and the Netherlands—among others—reimposing travel bans, curfews and other restrictions. Denmark, according to The Washington Post, reported that Omicron cases are doubling nearly every two days and that the “hardest period of the pandemic” is still ahead of us.

E.U. officials also say that Omicron could be the dominant COVID-19 variant in Europe by mid-January. Although early research shows the strain to be less severe than previous variants, the increase in cases alone could cause a surge in hospitalizations and deaths, the Times reported. E.U. researchers say that booster campaigns and new social restrictions could lessen its impact.

This article originally appeared on www.travelagentcentral.com.

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