In Brief

Brits facing EU travel ban from January as Covid rules kick in post-Brexit

Non-essential journeys will no longer be allowed after transition period ends

air passengers

Millions of British holidaymakers eager to pack their bags for new year trips may have to look beyond Europe thanks to Covid restrictions that apply to non-EU member states.  

Most Brits will be “barred” from visiting EU countries from 1 January, after the Brexit transition ends, as “pandemic safety rules that allow free travel within the bloc stop applying to the UK”, the Financial Times reports. 

The European Commission says that the EU system “only allows non-essential travel from a handful of non-EU countries with low coronavirus infection rates”. 

According to latest data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, 18 of the 27 states in the bloc have a higher rate of coronavirus infection than the UK. 

But under the EU rules, the UK’s coronavirus case rate is too high for Brits to be allowed into the member countries. Travel will only be allowed to EU countries if the bloc “relaxes its pandemic travel curbs or individual member states choose to override the rules”, the FT adds.

Exemptions only apply for diplomats, some “highly qualified workers” and for people travelling for “imperative family reasons”, The Daily Telegraph reports. 

And only eight non-EU countries - including Singapore, Australia and New Zealand - are on the list of “safe” third nations. 

Asked if the exemption would be extended to include the UK, a European Commission spokesperson said: “This is a decision for the [European] Council to make.”

Meanwhile, a Downing Street 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.”

The non-EU nation of Norway has also confirmed that Britons will not be allowed to enter the Nordic country from 1 January unless they are a resident. 

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