Following the announcement of the Pfizer vaccine in November, EasyJet reported a surge of holiday bookings. But you might want to hold off planning that city break to Lisbon: from the first of January, people in the UK may be banned from travelling to EU countries for non-essential purposes. This is because our coronavirus rate is too high and, as we will no longer be in the EU, stricter rules will apply.
There is currently a list of eight non-EU countries designated “safe” enough to allow their citizens to travel to the EU for non-essential purposes. The list includes Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. According to a Financial Times report, there are currently no plans to add the UK to the list.
There will be a few exemptions to the rule, but unless you’re a diplomat, a “highly qualified worker”, or have “an imperative family reason”, it’s unlikely you’ll be travelling to the EU any time soon. The only way around this if if some individual member states decide to override the policy, or if the EU has a whole softens its stance. As it stands, it remains unclear exactly how long this state of affairs can be expected to last, although the “safe list” is currently reviewed every two weeks.
A government spokesperson has said: “We cannot comment on decisions that could be taken by other states on public health matters. 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.”