UK holidaymakers could be barred from EU after Brexit due to Covid-19 travel rules

Brexit: Expert outlines potential travel changes for UK citizens

The European Commission indicates Britons will be unable to enter EU countries for non-essential travel at the beginning of the New Year, when Brexit takes effect.

Only a handful of countries with low infection rates are exempt from the rules.

Due to the pandemic, EU countries only allow non-essential travel from non-EU countries with low coronavirus infection rates.

Only eight countries are on the ‘safe’ list including Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, whose citizens can visit the EU.

South Korea, Japan, Rwanda, Thailand and Uruguay are also on the list.

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China is on the ‘safe’ list subject to reciprocity. 

Under the rules, individuals can still enter in certain cases, mainly for work and study.

Officials say there are no current plans to add Britain to the ‘safe’ list. 

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab admitted that travel could be disrupted.

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He told the Today programme: “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.”

The only way Britons will be allowed to travel is if the European Council agrees to lift the rules before January 1, when the UK leaves the EU.

Mr Raab added that the restrictions were not a direct result of Brexit.

He said: “In terms of linking it to Brexit… I don’t think that’s right. The arrangements, whether we’ve got a free trade deal or otherwise, are that Brits can go over there for 90 days in any 180-day period.

“But Covid in the rest of Europe and in the UK remains a live issue and we need to make sure we’ve got control of it and I’m afraid restrictions on travel is something that’s quite likely to be kept under review.”

If a proposal is made to add the UK to the ‘safe’ list, the country would have to meet certain criteria.

To be added to the safe list, countries must have infection rates below the EU average on June 15, and infections must be stable or falling.

This includes proving it has tough coronavirus measures. 

The Norwegian government has also stated that from January 1, UK nationals will no longer be classified as EU nationals, meaning new restrictions will apply that may affect ability to enter the country.

Airlines including easyJet had reported a surge in bookings for 2021 in the past few weeks after the news of a vaccine, though many trips are now in doubt. 

A UK 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.”

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