EUROPE is accelerating its plans for vaccine passports so Brits can hit beaches on the continent from May 17.

The EU wants to make sure the system is up and running the moment Boris Johnson drops our ban on international travel.

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Under the blueprint sun seekers will be able to provide either proof of a jab or a negative test to go on holiday.

Top eurocrat Margaritis Schinas said it will be "perfectly doable" to recognise travel documents issued in the UK.

Asked when the scheme will be ready, the Greek EU Commissioner said "there are grounds for optimism to be ready before summer".

He told Euronews: "Summer starts on June 1 and we have another date, May 17, which is the date where our British friends have announced that they will resume international travel.

"I think this is a notion of time which realistically we should target."

Brussels boss Ursula bon der Leyen had previously warned it would take until the start of June just to put the systems in place for vaccine passports.

And even then, she said the documents would at first only be used for restarting internal travel within the EU.

But a number of countries like Greece, Spain, Italy, and Portugal are desperate to welcome back Brit tourists and want the plans to go faster.

Mr Schinas' upbeat remarks come despite fears summer hols could be threatened by a growing third wave in Europe.

But he insisted the vaccine passport plans will help "mitigate risk" by ensuring only people who are safe to travel can do so.

He said: "It would have been a risk if we would have people travelling without any of these three assurances.

"To put it differently, if you have not been vaccinated or you have not had a PCR test or no COVID immunity, then you better not travel because you are a potential risk for others."

Germany's top diseases centre today warned the virus is spreading there at a "very clearly exponential rate".

Lars Schaade, deputy head of the Robert Koch Institute, said: "It is very possible that we will have a similar situation over Easter to the one we had before Christmas, with very high case numbers, many severe cases and deaths, and hospitals that are overwhelmed."

Health minister Jens Spahn added: "We are in the third wave of the pandemic, the numbers are rising, the percentage of virus mutations is high."

Italy has had to reimpose a third national lockdown, while the French government has brought back restrictions in Paris.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control warned cases are now rising in 20 of the EU's 27 countries and "transmission is still widespread".

It said: "It is possible that further increases in admissions to hospital, ICU and mortality will follow in the coming weeks in those countries that are currently observing increasing case notification rates."

It comes as European nations today scrambled to undo the damage to their snail-paced jabs rollouts by the temporary block on the AZ jab.

Germany, Italy, Spain, France, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Latvia, Cyprus, the Netherlands and Slovenia have all announced they'll immediately begin using the shot again.

Ireland is set to follow that decision today while Sweden, Denmark, Portugal and Bulgaria are yet to make their decisions.

The European Medicines Agency gave the jab the green light across Europe, after 20 states across the continent paused its rollout over blood clot fears.

Meanwhile a top minister revealed the UK is now working on its own "Covid certificates" that could allow Brits to pack back into football stadiums and cinemas from June 21.

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Culture secretary Oliver Dowden said under the plan people will be allowed to provide proof of either a vaccination or negative test result to attend mass events.

The new Covid certificates would be combined with other measures like one-way systems for fans, mask wearing, and frequent hand sanitising to help make mass events Coronavirus secure.

They will be piloted indoors at the World Snooker Championship at Sheffield's legendary Crucible on April 17, and then outdoors too during the FA cup final on May 15 at Wembley.



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