If the bearer of the passport has been vaccinated, it may grant them special travel privileges such as the waiving of mandatory quarantine. It could even allow them to visit certain areas such as restaurants, music festivals, sports events and conferences.
The leftist government of Denmark is hoping the passport can be the first step in a return to normalcy. Acting Finance Minister Morten Boedskov said on Wednesday, Feb. 3, that the passport will be ready "in three, four months" and that Danish citizens will be able to use it for business-related flights.
"It is absolutely crucial for us to be able to restart Danish society so that companies can get back on track," said Boedskov. "Many Danish companies are global companies with the whole world as a market."
According to Boedskov, the government will launch a health website by the end of February that will show confirmation whether each Danish citizen has been vaccinated.
"It will be the extra passport that you will be able to have on your mobile phone that documents that you have been vaccinated," said Boedskov, explaining the passport. "We can be among the first in the world to have it and can show it to the rest of the world." (Related: Here it comes: If you want to board a plane or travel internationally, you're going to have to have a COVID "vaccine passport.")
Denmark is currently under its second lockdown, which was introduced in January. All non-essential retail stores are closed while bars and restaurants are only allowed to offer takeout.
Boedskov said that the coronavirus passport will be developed with the help of business groups. He presented the proposal together with several representatives from some of the organizations that will help in the conceptualization, production and implementation of the passport. These groups include the Danish Chamber of Commerce and the Confederation of Danish Industry, a business organization that represents many of Denmark's largest corporations.
"This is the light at the end of the tunnel for very many companies," said Brian Mikkelsen, chief executive officer of the Chamber of Commerce and a former member of parliament.
Danish businesses welcomed the news of the coronavirus passports.
"If we can ensure critical resources can travel to crucial geographies without quarantine, then that's a positive," said Mads Nipper, chief executive of renewable energy company Orsted, during an interview with the Financial Times. He added that he was very excited at the thought that he and his company's technical experts could finally visit their wind and solar farms outside of Denmark.
Denmark is similar to many other Nordic and Baltic countries in that it is also moving towards completely digitizing some of its services in order to reduce bureaucracy. Things like electronic authentication and digital signatures enable paperless communication for both the public and private sectors.
The government believes the implementation of a digital vaccine passport would not cause too much trouble with the populace. According to Boedskov, this passport can be something travelers have on their smartphones that they can show to the proper authorities whenever questioned.
The Danish government said that it will meet at a later date to discuss whether the digital coronavirus passport should also be used for purposes other than travel. Boedskov said that they will also consider whether to add other details into the document such as whether a person has tested positive for coronavirus antibodies.
While Denmark works out the particulars of how it is going to implement its coronavirus vaccine passport, the rest of the European Union continues to debate whether it should impose a similar, region-wide passport.
The European Commission has been weighing a similar proposal to issue "vaccination certificates." These will supposedly allow travelers to move quickly throughout the region.
The EU is hoping that this kind of passport scheme can help the region avoid another disastrous summer for the continent's already struggling tourism sector. While the EU debates on this, other countries in the region are implementing their own measures to provide privileges for the vaccinated.
On Tuesday, Estonia announced that it will be dropping quarantine requirements for travelers arriving into the country if they can provide proof that they have received the coronavirus vaccine.
The required proof needs to meet the country's criteria such as information saying when the vaccine was made, when it was used, who issued the vaccine and its batch number. The proof must also be written down in either English, Estonian or Russian.
On Thursday, the leftist government of Sweden announced that it will be following its Nordic neighbor in offering its citizens a digital coronavirus passport. The country said it will begin preparing the digital infrastructure to help with the verification process necessary to check the health data of passport bearers.
Minister for Health and Social Affairs Lena Hallengren said that, for the vaccine passport to work, it needs to be recognized internationally, which is why the country is working to develop an "international standard" for the vaccine passports.
Learn more about the countries attempting to implement vaccine passports and the dangers these kinds of documents pose by reading the latest articles at Vaccines.news.