British travellers could be banned from entering the European Union from January 1 under current coronavirus restrictions.
Travellers from the United Kingdom would be subject to same travel restrictions as all other non-EU countries which bars all but essential travel to Europe due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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.”
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.
“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.”
Essential travel is categorized into 11 areas, including healthcare professionals, passengers in transit, diplomats and people traveling for imperative family reasons.
The UK has recorded the highest number of coronavirus deaths in Europe, with more than 62,000 fatalities.