British vacationers could be banned from entering the EU after Brexit under strict coronavirus travel rules that affect non-EU countries – unless officials grant a last-minute exemption.
The regulations allow non-essential travel to the EU from only a handful of third countries where infection rates are very low, such as Australia and New Zealand.
Although the UK has a lower infection rate than 18 of the 27 EU member states, there are currently no plans to put the UK on the "safe" list, according to official figures.
And Great Britain would not automatically be exempted even if Boris Johnson signed an 11th-hour contract with EU leader Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels this week.
British tourists could be banned from entering the EU from January 1 under strict coronavirus rules, although the UK has an infection rate below many EU member states (see figure above, Covid infection rate per million people based on an average of seven days).
To qualify for the list, countries must have an infection rate at or below the EU average on June 15, when cases were very low. Currently, the list includes sizes like Australia and New Zealand, which are priced well below the UK (above).
The British are only allowed to travel if the European Council agrees to relax the rules before January 1, when Brexit comes into effect, or if individual member states decided to override the rules.
To qualify for the exception list, infection rates in countries must be lower than the European average on June 15, when infection rates were at the bottom.
Non-EU safe countries
Only eight countries outside the EU are considered "safe" enough for tourists to enter.
In order to be on the “safe” list, the infection rates of the countries on June 15 must be below the EU average and the infections must be stable or fall.
The current list includes:
– Australia (0.03 cases per 100,000)
– Japan (1.8 cases)
– New Zealand (0.05 cases)
– Rwanda (0.3 cases)
– Singapore (0.15 cases)
– South Korea (1.2 cases)
– Thailand (0.02 cases)
– Uruguay (7.7 cases)
– China (subject to reciprocity, 0.008 cases)
By comparison, the UK has an infection rate of 22.4 per 100,000 people, according to European CDC data.
The total number of cases must also be stable or falling, and other government responses to the pandemic, including mask mandates and social distancing rules, may also be considered.
Currently, the list of exempt non-EU countries only includes nine countries where infection rates are much lower than the UK.
In addition to Australia and New Zealand, the current list includes: South Korea, Japan, Rwanda, Singapore, Thailand, Uruguay and China.
Of these, Uruguay currently has the highest infection rate of 7.7 cases per 100,000 people based on a seven day moving average.
By comparison, the UK has an infection rate of 22.4 per 100,000 people.
Only two EU countries, Hungary and Croatia, have decided not to apply the travel ban list, reports the Financial Times.
Norway, which is not an EU member state but is part of the extended Schengen border-free zone, has not applied the list either.
However, officials in Oslo have already confirmed that British non-residents will be banned from entry from January 1, when Brexit goes into effect.
A UK government spokesman said: "We cannot comment on any decisions other states might make on public health issues."
Coronavirus infection rates dropped dramatically in summer before rising in winter, when respiratory diseases tended to spread faster.
Lockdown measures in place in most of the major European countries have caused these rates to fall rapidly, though not as far or as fast as in the first round of lockdowns in the spring.
Germany – widely praised for having one of the best initial virus responses – now has an infection rate comparable to that of the UK after avoiding a full second lockdown.
The country recorded an additional 23,679 cases on Monday, a one-day record for the second wave of the pandemic, bringing the total to 1,242,203.
Another 440 deaths were recorded, bringing the total to 20,372.
Angela Merkel has now called for stricter measures to be taken in the run-up to Christmas than Germany intended to relax its restrictions.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab this morning denied that the restrictions were due to Brexit and did not rule out the possibility of Britain being liberated
The UK also has a lower death rate from the virus than many other large European countries and travel destinations, including Italy, France and Portugal
The dead end in Brexit continues today, despite the latest diplomacy from Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen, pictured in Brussels last night
Merkel called for non-essential stores to be closed and social gatherings to be further restricted.
The Chancellor added that schools should extend the holidays until January 10 or offer online lessons until then.
Talking about the Christmas break that Germans had been promised, she added that people cannot choose when to hear the science.
"The numbers are what they are, so we have to do something about them," she said.
Brits could be excluded from EU travel beyond the expiration date of the passport
Millions of Britons could be banned from entering the EU in the New Year if they don't renew their passports.
Visas are not required for short tourist trips, regardless of whether or not there is a Brexit trade agreement in place. However, it was feared that large numbers of people could still be caught after the January 1st transition period.
British passports are currently valid in the EU and other Schengen Free Zone countries until their expiry date.
However, from January they must run for at least six more months.
This means that those whose passports expire in the summer of 2021 will no longer be able to travel in the spring.
People whose passports don't expire until late 2021 or even early 2022 may also run the risk of breaking the rules.
This is because UK passports are valid for up to 10 years and nine months instead of the usual 10 years – in recognition of the fact that if there is still time left on an old document, an extension can be made.
The EU will ignore the additional nine months as well as the last six months when deciding whether a passport is valid.
In France, which had one of the highest infection rates in Europe before the winter period, cases have now fallen below the level in the UK.
Non-essential stores were allowed to reopen in November, causing cases to pick up again.
A second round of easing was scheduled for December 15, but may not go ahead if cases remain at their current levels.
Measures to be dropped on December 15 included forcing people to fill out forms to leave their homes.
Britain is close to Brexit after Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen set a final breakthrough deadline on Sunday and warned that "very large" gaps would remain.
The Prime Minister and the EU leader spent more than three hours taking stock of the dire situation when they ate steamed turbot and scallops at the Commission's headquarters in Brussels last night – the source of many skirmishes between British and French fishing boats.
But the pair could not find a way through the impasse that trade talks had left on the verge of collapse a year after Britain officially left the bloc.
Instead, they order Michel Barnier and Lord Frost to re-engage, provided that the plug is pulled if a solution is not found within four days.
However, it is not clear whether they have received new policy instructions – which are seen as critical to postponing the deadlock.
Government sources confirmed that Lord Frost and Mr Barnier will resume trade talks in Brussels today after Brexit to resolve the outstanding issues.
In a grim assessment, a No. 10 source said Mr. Johnson "did not want to leave any path to a potential deal untested".
"The Prime Minister and Ursula von der Leyen had an open discussion about the major obstacles that remain in the negotiations," the source said.
“There are very large gaps between the two sides and it is still unclear whether these can be bridged. The Prime Minister and Ms. von der Leyen agreed to hold further talks between their negotiating teams over the next few days.
& # 39; The Prime Minister does not want to leave any route to a potential deal untested. The Prime Minister and Ms. von der Leyen agreed that a firm decision on the future of the talks should be made by Sunday. & # 39;
Ms. von der Leyen said in a statement: “We had a lively and interesting discussion on the state of affairs on open issues. We understand each other's positions.
& # 39; They stay far apart. The teams should meet again immediately to try to resolve these issues. We will make a decision by the end of the weekend. & # 39;
(tagsToTranslate) Dailymail (t) Nachrichten (t) New Zealand (t) Coronavirus (t) Brexit (t) Boris Johnson