A vast majority of Brits will be barred from visiting EU countries from 1 January, when pandemic safety rules that permit free travel within the bloc stop applying to the UK because of Brexit.
The end of the transition period means that the UK will be subject to a system that permits non-essential travel from only a handful of non-EU countries with low coronavirus infection rates – like New Zealand and Singapore.
EU member states have declined to override a recommendation to stop travellers from countries like the US, which are not on the list of “safe” third nations, entering the bloc. Just eight countries with low rates are on the list, the FT reported.
UK not on ‘safe nations’ list
There are currently 18 EU nations with higher infection rates than the UK, according to data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
Brits will only be able to travel to countries like France and Italy if the Brussels relaxes its pandemic travel restrictions – or individual member states choose to ignore the rules.
There is reportedly no plan to add the UK to the list of safe nations and, if such a proposal was made, Britain would still need to meet a number of epidemiological standards, alongside “economic and social considerations”.
In a worrying sign for Brits hoping to travel to Europe in the new year, some member states do not even allow in travellers from countries on the safe list as the continent continues to be battered by a deadly second wave of coronavirus.
Just 12 nations apply the list in full, while three – Hungary, Croatia and Norway – have not adopted it at all.
It’s a no from Norway
But in another sign that the reality of Brexit is starting to hit home, Norway – which is not in the EU, but is part of its travel arrangement – has said it will stop British citizens who do not live in the country entering from 1 January.
Norway’s biggest export country is the UK, and Oslo this week signed deals with London on healthcare and social security arrangements – as well as a continuity trade deal.
Some travellers from Britain could still visit EU nations after 31 December, under exemptions including for diplomats, “imperative family reasons” and some “highly qualified third-country workers”.
EU nationals living in Britain will still be permitted, as will Brits who live in the EU.