Along with the relaxation of other guidelines, many European countries are preparing to reopen their borders to international travel. There has been speculation as to whether this will occur on 1 July 2020 (as originally planned) or at a later date, in order to allow more time to complete ongoing discussions as to which countries’ nationals will be deemed safe to be allowed entry.
Once this dialogue is concluded it is envisaged that there will be two lists – one listing the countries whose citizens will be accepted, and one listing citizens of the countries who will not. At present the EU has already named 14 countries whose citizens will likely be regarded as ‘safe’ to enter. This list includes Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay. There are likely to be further amendments to this list.
The EU is also prepared to add China to the list of countries whose citizens may enter but only if China are willing to offer the same with regard to EU travellers.
There has been speculation that the decision as to which visitors will be permitted will be based on how each country has managed the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a strenuous balancing act. An EU diplomat noted that “The criteria will be focused on circulation of the virus”. There have been indications that Brussels is aiming to keep out visitors from countries “where the virus is circulating most actively”. EU guidelines released two weeks ago similarly suggested that the lists would consider the infection rates as part of the evaluation process. If this is indeed the test to be employed in establishing which visitors are permitted to enter Europe, it appears likely that US citizens, along with those from various other countries, may not be authorised to enter.
Nevertheless, another EU diplomat has stated that not all European countries were in favour of reopening their borders at this time due to the fear of a second wave of COVID-19. Consequently, it is unclear to what extent international boarders will open.
UK nationals are to be treated identically to EU citizens until the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020. Consequently, they will not appear on either list and will be permitted to enter any European country in keeping with the principle of Free Movement. Please note that UK nationals may still be subject to self-isolation, COVID-19 testing or quarantine measures which are in force across many European countries.
It is anticipated that the list will be revised every two weeks and we continue to monitor these travel restrictions closely. Should you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact us.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.