Could EU Covid restrictions bar Britons from travelling to Europe after Brexit?
UK holidaymakers may not be able to travel to EU countries after January 1 due to Covid-19 rules that bar most travellers from outside the bloc visiting 30 countries.
The formal end of the Brexit transition period on December 31 means Britons will face EU rules that only allow non-essential travel from a very limited number of non-EU countries, the Financial Times has reported.
Most UK citizens would only be able to travel to the EU after January 1 if individual states make allowances for such a move, or the bloc as a whole eases its pandemic travel curbs, the newspaper said.
The EU travel restrictions cover 26 of the remaining 27 countries (Ireland does not currently apply the travel restriction) and the Schengen countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab acknowledged that travel could be disrupted across Europe.
“Covid restrictions will depend on the combination of what the EU decides, but also member states," Mr Raab told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:
“We have already got challenges with that and we have put our own restrictions in place.”
He acknowledged that coronavirus “remains a live issue and we need to make sure we have got control of it”.
Asked whether that would mean Britons will find it difficult to go to the European mainland, he said: “It all depends on the prevalence of the virus in those continental European countries.”
A earlier statement issued by a Government spokeswoman said: “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.”
But travel industry experts said UK tourists were a "key contributor to economic growth in Europe" and urged individual countries to "override" the EU.
Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy the PC Agency, said: “I cannot believe that EU countries who rely on the spending power of UK business and leisure travellers will seek to block entry after January 1."
He continued: “I’m sure that individual countries who need UK tourism will be sensible and override any EU-bloc decision which prevents entry. It is so important now for countries to work together globally to create a consistent approach.”