COVID-19 affects UK travel and Brexit transition ends

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Comments by Sanwar Ali:

Currently, travel is difficult anyway due to the COVID-19 situation and the new strain of the virus.  When air travel is back to normal it remains to be seen how long it will take for British nationals to pass through entry checks in EU countries.  After almost fifty years of being in the EU, the end of free movement may take quite some getting used to.


Britons travelling to the EU as of 1st January 2021

The UK, after the end of the Brexit transitional period, is now considered by the EU as being a “third country”.  At the moment this may not make a lot of difference as COVID-19 restrictions mean that travel is difficult.  Until the end of the Brexit transition period and before COVID-19, UK nationals would usually benefit from free movement.  As a third country, UK citizens can no longer exercise treaty rights. 

As of 22nd October 2020, EU countries were asked to gradually lift the travel ban on third countries that have a low rate of infection. Restrictions were lifted for residents of a total of 8 third countries, including Australia and Singapore. All other residents of third countries, including the UK, will not be permitted to travel to the EU until COVID-19 casualties have dramatically reduced, resulting in the lifting of restrictions.  Another complication is the new virus strain which means that many countries around the World are not allowing air travel from the UK.

UK COVID-19 Tier 4 and what it means for international travel 

London and part of the South East of England were put under Tier 4 restrictions by the government on the 19th December 2020. As of the 31st December 2020, more of the UK has moved into Tier 4 restrictions including parts of the North East of England and the Midlands. This change in tiers now means that 78% of the UK will be under a “stay at home” order. But what does this mean for international travel?

Areas now in Tier 4 have been ordered to “stay at home”, and only go out under limited exceptions set out in Law. These exceptions include but are not limited to work, buying food, fulfilling legal obligations, for exercise and for medical reasons. Travelling abroad for holidays or leisure purposes is banned for those living in Tier 4 areas unless you are travelling abroad for one of the reasons listed under the limited exceptions. The government said “If you live in a Tier 4 area, you can only travel internationally - or within the UK - where you first have a legally permitted reason to leave home. In addition, you should consider public health advice in the country you are visiting.” 

International travel is not banned for those living in areas not under Tier 4 restrictions, however, the government is advising that they consider only travelling where the travel is deemed essential.


Global ban on UK travel

The new strain of COVID-19 that is rampant in parts of the UK is said to be 70% more transmissible than the original strain. This has led to several countries banning travel from the UK, ruining plenty of Britons travel plans for Christmas and New Year's Eve. 


Full list of countries banning flights from the UK or with restrictions:

Algeria- Indefinitely

Jamaica- 4th January

Argentina- Indefinitely

Japan- Indefinitely

Austria- until 1st January

Jordan- 3rd January

Belgium- Belgium residents only until 31st December

Kuwait- 1st January

Bulgaria- until 1st January

Lithuania- 1st January

Canada- Indefinitely

Macedonia- 31st January

Chile- Indefinitely

Malta- Malta residents only

Columbia- Indefinitely

Mauritius- 31st December

Croatia- until 31st December

Moldova- Indefinitely

Czech Republic- until 31st December

Morocco- indefinitely

Denmark- until 25th December

Norway- 26th December

Dominican Republic- Indefinitely

Oman- 27th December

El Salvador- Indefinitely

Pakistan- 30th December

Estonia- until 1st January

Panama- Panama residents only

France- France residents only until 6th January

Peru- 4th January

Finland- until 4th January

Philippines- 31st December

Germany- until 6th January

Poland- 6th January

Gibraltar- Gibraltar residents and Spanish nationals only

Portugal- Portugal residents only

Grenada- Indefinitely

Romania- 4th January

Hong Kong- Indefinitely

Russia- 28th December

Hungary- 8th February

Saudi Arabia- 27th December

India- 31st December

Singapore- Singapore residents only

Iraq- Indefinitely

South Korea- 31st December

Ireland (Excluding NI)- 31st December

Spain- Spain residents only

Israel- Israel residents only

Sri Lanka- Indefinitely

Italy- 6th January

Sweden- Sweden residents only until 21st January


Switzerland- Indefinitely


Turkey- Indefinitely


Uzbekistan- Uzbekistan residents only until 10th January can help with Sponsor Licences

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