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EU Launches Digital COVID-19 Travel Certificate

A picture taken on June 29, 2021 in Paris shows a passport behind a mobile phone whose screen bears a EU Digital COVID certificate.

The European Union has formally launched its digital COVID-19 certificate, designed to make travel safe and easy for the fully vaccinated within its member nations -- but at least one airline says the app has run into issues on its first day of use.

The EU designed the digital certificate – available as a smart phone app or in paper format - to help holders be exempt from restrictions such as quarantine. Under the EU rules, member states must refrain from imposing additional travel restrictions on certificate holders unless they are necessary and proportionate to safeguard public health.

At a news briefing in Brussels, European Commission spokesman Christian Wigand said 26 member states are issuing certificates as of Thursday, and already, more than 200 million certificates have been generated.

But in practice, the certificate appears to have a few glitches. A spokeswoman for Brussels Airlines, Maaike Andries, told the Reuters news service that the QR code on COVID-19 certificates apparently is not yet linked to the traveler’s destination. That means airlines must still perform visual checks to make sure the traveler meets the requirements of the area to which they are traveling.

As a far as making travel simpler, Andries said, “Unfortunately, we're not quite there yet.”

A Brussels airport spokesman said it is strongly advised people thoroughly check what documents they need at their destination to demonstrate proof of vaccination, or proof of a negative COVID-19 test if they haven't been fully vaccinated.

The Associated Press and Reuters news agencies contributed to this report.