UK Travellers Could Be Barred From Entering The EU Post-Brexit Due to Covid – Even If A Deal Is Struck
Travel from the UK to the EU could be blocked post-Brexit due to rules on trying to reduce Covid-19 on the continent (PA)
British travellers may be barred from entering the EU after Brexit because of Covid-19 even if there is a trade deal agreed by the end of the month.
Once the transition period ends on December 31 the UK will automatically become a third-party country and free movement will end.
It means being subject to the EU’s rules on which countries are safe for people to enter the bloc to try and prevent bringing coronavirus into the continent.
So far the European Commission has only placed a small number countries with very low coronavirus infection rates on its list of “safe” third nations. According to the Financial Times, there are currently “no plans” to add Britain to it.
That means people from the UK would only be able to cross the channel for non-essential visits come January 1 if Brussels relaxes its pandemic travel curbs, or individual member states choose to override the rules.
The UK has a current Covid-19 case rate of 314.8 per 100,000, which although is lower than many EU countries, the nations which are on their safe list all have incidence rates well below 100.
Downing Street has refused to confirm whether Brits arrangements will be in place for Brits to travel to EU countries from January 1.
A Government spokesperson said: "We cannot comment on decisions that could be taken by other states on Public Health Matters.
“We take a scientific, risk-based approach to health measures at the border, and it is of course in the interests of all countries to allow safe international travel as we emerge from the pandemic.”
Talks are ongoing between the two sides on a free trade agreement but the outcome of the Brexit negotiations does not appear to have any bearing on the future travel restrictions.
While much of Europe is already off-limits, as Brits cannot currently visit Finland or Denmark at all, and a host of other countries like Germany require arrivals to self-isolate for up to 14 days, there are several countries on the UK’s travel corridor list.
And for places like Spain, France, Italy and Portugal which are not, the self-isolation period is due to fall to as little as five days from next week if people pay for a test.
To have that taken away from January 1 is a huge blow to the tourism industry, according to TSSA General Secretary Manuel Cortes.
He said: “Just when we’ve had some good news from the vaccine rollout, this news about post-Brexit European travel restrictions could sound the death knell for the travel trade.
“Covid has already decimated business and government has been woeful in its lack of support for the industry.
“Unfortunately, it’s no surprise that this shambles of a government hasn’t addressed post-Brexit travel arrangements despite there being only days left for negotiations.
“The much vaunted ‘oven-ready deal’ has proved to be anything but.”
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab acknowledged travel could be disrupted for Brits next year. telling the BBC: "Covid restrictions will depend on the combination of what the EU decides, but also member states.
"We have already got challenges with that and we have put our own restrictions in place."
A spokesman for UK Airlines suggested individual EU countries will be persuaded to override the guidance.
They said: “We expect EU member states that gain enormously from the tourism and air travel from the UK, and the billions of pounds it generates, to continue to ply their own rules, in order to prove certainty consumers and families looking to travel to the EU from January onwards.”
And the travel trade organisation Abta said: "The EU has sought to adopt a common approach to travel restrictions, but this is only a recommendation and individual countries are able to implement their own measures, including options like travel corridors and testing.
"It is too early to say what restrictions might be in place on January 1 given the uncertain nature of the pandemic, but we know that UK travellers are hugely important to a number of EU destinations, including some winter sun favourites like the Canary Islands and Madeira."