Britons ‘to face curbs on travel to EU countries’ after Brexit transition period

Travel to the EU will be restricted after the Brexit transition period expires at the end of the month due to rules aimed at combatting Covid-19, it has been reported.

Non-essential visits to the EU by UK citizens will be hit by curbs, according to the Financial Times.

Most UK residents will face restrictions on visiting the remaining 27 members of the EU from January 1 when rules permitting free travel within the bloc cease to apply to Britons, the newspaper said.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab acknowledged that travel could be disrupted across Europe.

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Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) is welcomed by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (R) in the Berlaymont building at the EU headquarters in Brussels on December 9, 2020, prior to a post-Brexit talks' working dinner. - Britain's Prime Minister arrives in Brussels on December 9, 2020, with hopes for a post-Brexit trade deal hanging on crisis talks with EU chief. Talks are blocked over the issue of fair competition, with Britain refusing to accept a mechanism that would allow the EU to respond swiftly if UK and EU business rules diverge over time and put European firms at a disadvantage. (Photo by Olivier HOSLET / POOL / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER HOSLET/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves in a car after a post-Brexit talks' working dinner at the EU headquarters on December 9, 2020 in Brussels. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met EU chief Ursula von der Leyen for a working dinner that could save -- or kill off -- hopes for a post-Brexit trade deal. (Photo by JOHN THYS / AFP) (Photo by JOHN THYS/AFP via Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - DECEMBER 09: Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen for a dinner during which they will try to reach a breakthrough on a post-Brexit trade deal on December 9, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium. The British prime minister's visit marked his most high-profile involvement in the talks over a post-Brexit trade deal, which has remained elusive despite months of EU and UK negotiating teams shuttling between London and Brussels. (Photo by Aaron Chown - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - DECEMBER 09: Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen meet for a dinner during they will try to reach a breakthrough on a post-Brexit trade deal on December 9, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium. The British prime minister's visit marked his most high-profile involvement in the talks over a post-Brexit trade deal, which has remained elusive despite months of EU and UK negotiating teams shuttling between London and Brussels. (Photo by Aaron Chown - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Three men in disguise wait in front the Berlaymont building at the EU headquarters in Brussels to protest as Britain's Prime Minister arrives prior to a post-Brexit talks' working dinneron December 9, 2020. - EU chief Ursula von der Leyen welcomed Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson to her headquarters in Brussels on December 9, 2020, for talks on saving post-Brexit trade negotiations. At Johnson's suggestion, he and von der Leyen removed their anti-Covid facemasks briefly and posed for photographers at the Berlaymont building before heading in for a working dinner. (Photo by François WALSCHAERTS / AFP) (Photo by FRANCOIS WALSCHAERTS/AFP via Getty Images)
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) leaves the official residence of the British ambassador to the United Kingdom in Brussels on December 9, 2020, prior to a post-Brexit talks' working dinner. - Britain's Prime Minister arrives in Brussels on December 9, 2020, with hopes for a post-Brexit trade deal hanging on crisis talks with EU chief. Talks are blocked over the issue of fair competition, with Britain refusing to accept a mechanism that would allow the EU to respond swiftly if UK and EU business rules diverge over time and put European firms at a disadvantage. (Photo by JOHN THYS / AFP) (Photo by JOHN THYS/AFP via Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - DECEMBER 09: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (R) meet on trade deals in Brussels, Belgium on December 09, 2020. (Photo by Alexandros Michailidis/Pool/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
This picture taken on December 9, 2020, shows the Berlaymont building at the EU headquarters in Brussels as Britain's Prime Minister and European Commission President meet for a post-Brexit talks' working dinner. - EU chief Ursula von der Leyen welcomed Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson to her headquarters in Brussels on December 9, 2020, for talks on saving post-Brexit trade negotiations. At Johnson's suggestion, he and von der Leyen removed their anti-Covid facemasks briefly and posed for photographers at the Berlaymont building before heading in for a working dinner. (Photo by JOHN THYS / AFP) (Photo by JOHN THYS/AFP via Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - DECEMBER 09: Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen meet for a dinner during they will try to reach a breakthrough on a post-Brexit trade deal on December 9, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium. The British prime minister's visit marked his most high-profile involvement in the talks over a post-Brexit trade deal, which has remained elusive despite months of EU and UK negotiating teams shuttling between London and Brussels. (Photo by Aaron Chown - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - DECEMBER 09: Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen meet for a dinner during they will try to reach a breakthrough on a post-Brexit trade deal on December 9, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium. The British prime minister's visit marked his most high-profile involvement in the talks over a post-Brexit trade deal, which has remained elusive despite months of EU and UK negotiating teams shuttling between London and Brussels. (Photo by Aaron Chown - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - DECEMBER 09: Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen meet for a dinner during they will try to reach a breakthrough on a post-Brexit trade deal on December 9, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium. The British prime minister's visit marked his most high-profile involvement in the talks over a post-Brexit trade deal, which has remained elusive despite months of EU and UK negotiating teams shuttling between London and Brussels. (Photo by Aaron Chown - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
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He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Covid restrictions will depend on the combination of what the EU decides, but also member states.

"We have already got challenges with that and we have put our own restrictions in place."

He acknowledged that coronavirus "remains a live issue and we need to make sure we have got control of it".

"I'm afraid restriction on travel, inevitably, is going to be something that is kept under review."

Asked whether that would mean Britons will find it difficult to go to the European mainland, he said: "It all depends on the prevalence of the virus in those continental European countries."

A earlier statement issued by a Government spokeswoman said: "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."

The formal end of the transition period on December 31 means Britons will face an EU regime that only allows non-essential travel from a very limited number of non-EU countries, the Financial Times reported.

Most UK citizens would only be able to travel to the EU if individual states make provisions for such a move, or the bloc as a whole lessens its pandemic travel curbs, the newspaper said.

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy the PC Agency, said: "I cannot believe that EU countries who rely on the spending power of UK business and leisure travellers will seek to block entry after January 1.

"Cool heads need to prevail at this politically difficult time as travel and tourism is such a key contributor to economic growth in Europe.

"I'm sure that individual countries who need UK tourism will be sensible and override any EU-bloc decision which prevents entry. It is so important now for countries to work together globally to create a consistent approach."

A spokesman for travel trade organisation Abta said: "The EU has sought to adopt a common approach to travel restrictions, but this is only a recommendation and individual countries are able to implement their own measures, including options like travel corridors and testing.

"It is too early to say what restrictions might be in place on January 1 given the uncertain nature of the pandemic, but we know that UK travellers are hugely important to a number of EU destinations, including some winter sun favourites like the Canary Islands and Madeira."

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