New Law in UK from January 2021: UK Travellers Banned from Entering EU Due to Coronavirus

Brits could be banned from entering EU from Jan 1 under Covid travel rules. Photo: The Mirror

EU urges to scrap UK coronavirus travel bans

Travelers from the UK could be banned from entering the European Union from January 1 undercurrent the new law of coronavirus restrictions, when the UK has recorded the highest number of coronavirus deaths in Europe, with more than 62,000 fatalities, as cited by CNN.

From that date UK travelers will be subject to the same travel restrictions as all other non-EU countries which -- due to the coronavirus pandemic -- bars all but essential travel to Europe, a European Commission official told CNN on Thursday.

The current Brexit transition period ends on December 31 and these travel restrictions will still apply even if the UK and EU strike a trade deal.

"The UK is not part of the Schengen area and -- following the end of the transition period -- it will also no longer be treated similarly to a member state," said the European Commission official, adding that the UK "will be subject to the [EU] Council Recommendation on the external travel restriction."

Brexit and Covid: British citizens cannot travel in Europe after January 1?

The combined forces of COVID-19 and Brexit have created massive uncertainty over where British people can and cannot travel.

A number of countries rapidly imposed travel bans on the UK in an attempt to control the spread of a new variant that was identified as spreading across the country. Most European countries halted land and air transportation links with the UK or reinforced quarantine periods, as did Canada, India, Russia, Colombia, Kuwait, and Turkey. Government advice and rules have been changing regularly.

"The list of countries for which restrictions should be lifted is reviewed and, as the case may be, updated regularly," the council official explained, adding it was too early to "confirm at this stage what the status of a country will be on 1 January", reported CNN.

The criteria in the recommendation set out by the European Council is primarily based on whether a particular country's epidemiological situation is better or lower than the EU average.

It also includes other factors such as "containment measures, including physical distancing, as well as economic and social considerations."

Reciprocal arrangements governing whether EU citizens are allowed to travel to that country "should also be taken into account regularly and on a case-by-case basis," the recommendation says.

In October, EU member states decided that only eight countries met the criteria of a "safe country," including Australia, Japan, and New Zealand.

"The council is responsible for reviewing the list of third countries towards which the travel restriction is lifted and the council will therefore need to consider the inclusion of the UK," said the European Commission official.

The UK will be considered with other non-EU countries at the next review, scheduled to take place in the week of December 14, an EU Official at the European Council told CNN.

No international travel except for work or education. International travel can resume on 2 December. Travelers from outside Common Travel Area must isolate for 10 days, with exemptions for travelers arriving from a list of exempt countries. Several European countries have restricted travel from the UK - Institute for Government UK cites.
New Law in UK from January 2021: UK Travellers Banned from Entering EU Due to Coronavirus
Photo: Forbes

What counts as essential travel during the Covid-19 lockdown?

When you can travel

The law lists various reasons why you might need to leave the house (detailed below), but these aren’t meant to be exhaustive. As well as this, the government has set out new guidance on when you’re allowed to leave the house if you do not have symptoms.

It is now advised that people wear face masks or coverings in public places where social distancing is not possible, such as on public transport or in shops. Government advice suggests avoiding being face-to-face with people outside of your household and says you can lower the risk of infection if you stay side-to-side.


You can go shopping for basic necessities, such as food and medicine, as infrequently as possible. You can also go to garden centers. Although you should not use public transport unless you have to and the government advises you to try and avoid peak times, there are no rules against driving to the shops.

Police guidance on the law in England says it is likely to be reasonable to leave the house to buy several days’ worth of food, including luxury items and alcohol, or to buy a small number of necessary items or collect surplus basic food items from a friend.

Going outdoors

You can meet with one person from outside your household at a time, as long as you stay two meters apart. You can now exercise outdoors as often as you wish, as long as you follow social distancing guidelines and remain two meters away from people outside of your household. This includes using outdoor sports courts and facilities, like tennis or basketball courts or golf courses.

You can also spend more time outdoors. Sitting in the fresh air, picnicking, and sunbathing are all now permitted.

There are no more restrictions on traveling to outdoor open spaces. You can travel to any open space irrespective of distance, but should not travel with someone from outside of your household unless you can social distance, for example by cycling. The government also recommends checking that the outside space, for example, if it is a National Park, is open and prepared for visitors before you travel. You can still not visit a second home.

Caring for others

You can also leave the house to care for elderly or vulnerable people, such as dropping shopping or medication at their door, as long as you have no coronavirus symptoms, no underlying health conditions, are under 70 and are not pregnant. More advice on caring for others can be found here. You should not share a car with anyone you do not live with.

Medical need

You can also leave your house for any medical need, including donating blood or attending medical appointments. There are no rules against driving for these reasons.

Work and family

You are permitted to travel to work if you cannot work from home, for example, if you work in construction, transport, or for the NHS, but the government has urged these workers to avoid public transport if they can.

Critical workers can still take their children to school or childcare providers, and children under the age of 18 can be moved between households if their parents do not live together.

Other reasons

The law says that leaving the house to avoid injury, illness or escape the risk of harm is allowed. Police guidance says it is also reasonable to move to a friend’s house for several days to allow a “cooling-off” following arguments at home.

If traveling is “absolutely necessary”, you are allowed to travel to access public services such as social services, the justice system, support for victims, or support from the Department for Work and Pensions. These services should be provided and accessed remotely whenever possible.

The government has advised home buyers and renters to delay moving house, but you are permitted to do this if it is unavoidable. Although leaving your home to stay at another home is generally not allowed, students leaving university halls to live permanently at their family home is permitted.

You can also take your pet to the vet if it needs urgent treatment

Work in people’s homes, such as repairs and maintenance, can still be carried out as long as the tradesperson has no symptoms. If a household is isolating or includes a vulnerable person who is being shielded, work should only be carried out if there is a direct risk to the safety of a household, such as emergency plumbing or repairs. No work should be carried out by a tradesperson with coronavirus symptoms, no matter how mild.

Police guidance says it is reasonable for someone to leave their house to buy equipment to make repairs, but not to redecorate., as cited by Full Fact.

International and domestic freight transport, including by air, ship, road and rail, is classified as essential activity. Advice against non-essential travel does not apply to it.

New Law in UK from January 2021: UK Travellers Banned from Entering EU Due to Coronavirus
Photo: US News and World Report

When you can’t travel

The government has detailed in its guidance some of the specific cases where you are not allowed to travel. Essential travel does not include visits to second homes, campsites, caravan parks, or similar places, either for isolation or holidays. You should remain in your primary residence.

In general, you should not visit family or friends in their homes, unless one of the permissible reasons above applies, such as if you are caring for them or need to move children between their parents’ homes. You should not use public transport unless you have to. If you do have to use it, you should try and avoid peak times.

You still cannot exercise in an indoor sports court, gym or leisure center, or go swimming in a public pool. Outdoor gyms and playgrounds cannot be used, and you cannot visit private or ticketed attractions.

After COVID restrictions are lifted, most British travellers will find that Brexit brings some minor inconveniences. They will have to use “all passports” or “visa not required” lanes at borders and will travel similarly to non-EU citizens.

When the European Travel Authorisation and Information System (ETIAS) is introduced in the second half of 2022, visa-exempt, non-EU citizens will need to apply for travel authorisation online before their trip and pay a fee of 7 euros.

Other than that, they will be restricted to staying less than 90 days in a 180 period in the Schengen region.

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