Coalition in talks with international airlines on digital vaccine passport for travel | Australian politics

Join Hafta-Ichi to Research the article “Coalition in talks with international airlines on digital vaccine passport for travel | Australian politics”

The Australian government is in talks with the International Air Transport Association about a new digital certificate that could unlock quarantine-free overseas travel for vaccinated Australians.

In recent days, the prime minister Scott Morrison has begun talking up the idea of a new digital vaccination passport that could be used for domestic travel, saying this would be the “next most achievable step” as more Australians became vaccinated.

Morrison has also signalled that Singapore is the next most likely destination for a travel bubble with Australia, with negotiations between the two countries about how this would operate well under way.

IATA, which is the trade association for 290 of the world’s airlines, has been in discussions with Australian Border Force about the use of the IATA Travel Pass – a mobile app that allows travellers to store and manage their verified certifications for Covid-19 tests and vaccines.

Qantas has trialled the IATA pass, along with another similar product known as the CommonPass.

While Australia does not have any national digital vaccination certification process in place, all immunisation data is stored by the department of social services.

Vinoop Goel, IATA’s Asia Pacific director for airports and external relations, said that the opening of borders could be made easier and safer with a digital vaccination pass, noting that travel in the Asia Pacific was currently 5% of 2019 levels.

He said attempting to use the current Australian system could be possible, but it would be more cumbersome, less secure and more open to risk than a digital pass.

“Our goal is try and make sure that borders reopen, and that too without quarantine because you know if you’re looking at a 14 day or 21 day quarantine, it does not work for business travel, neither does it work for leisure travel,” he said.

“So that is our goal is to try and work with government and with airlines and say look, there are options to look at testing and vaccination, a combination of those, and we do understand states have different risk appetites, and different contact tracing and different health capabilities.

“But we say OK, as part of the overall policy, look at testing and vaccination, and by the way, we have the right digital tools to ensure that anyone coming in is meeting the right requirements in terms of testing and vaccination by using the travel pass.”

Goel said that talks with Australian Border Force had been “encouraging” over the past few months, and he was hopeful the government would endorse the app’s use, pointing to Singapore as the first country to announce it would be accepting the pass.

“We hope at some stage in the near future, we will get their endorsement or approval, that they will accept digital certificates and the IATA travel pass, but it is a work in progress,” Goel said.

Many countries around the world have already adopted a digital vaccination certificate, with a digital “green pass” in operation in Israel, and the European Union unveiling a “digital green certificate” to allow vaccinated EU citizens to travel freely in the upcoming northern hemisphere summer.

In the UK, international travellers will be asked to demonstrate their Covid vaccination and testing status using the NHS smartphone app, which will function as a vaccine passport.

But the move to digital vaccination passports is also raising concerns about the privacy of stored information, along with the equity of such a program, given citizens of wealthier countries who are more likely to be vaccinated would be the first to benefit. The issue is also proving divisive in the US, where some states are embracing the concept, and others are passing laws banning them.

Morrison, who has been fending off calls for international borders to be reopened sooner than mid next year, said the government needed to “plan for when we reopen” with digital vaccination passports “the next step”.

He said that in the first instance, a digital passport could be used to allow Australians to travel domestically without being subject to state and territory lockdowns.

“Well, look, this is a next step. And what’s important is it’s, it’s not safe and won’t be for some time for Australia’s international borders to open fully. That’s just not a safe thing to do,” he said.

“But we are working on the next steps. And this is one of those important next steps. I look forward to working through, in a comprehensive way, those proposals with the state and territory governments, and, and I look forward to a constructive way forward.”

On Monday, Morrison said the government would be having further discussions with the Singapore government about them being “the next potential country” for an Australian travel bubble, but cautioned it was still “some way off.”

Hafta Ichi
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Coalition in talks with international airlines on digital vaccine passport for travel | Australian politics

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *