A passenger walks through Gatwick Airport in London, England, on November 27.
A passenger walks through Gatwick Airport in London, England, on November 27. Leon Neal/Getty Images

Travelers from the UK will from January be subject to the same travel restrictions as all other non-EU countries, which bar all but essential travel to Europe, a European official told CNN.

The current Brexit transition period ends on December 31 and these travel restrictions will still apply even if the UK and European Union 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,” the official from the European Commission said, adding that the UK “will be subject to the [EU] Council Recommendation on the external travel restriction.”

The criteria in the recommendation is primarily based on whether a particular country’s epidemiological situation is better or lower than the EU average.

It also includes factors such as “containment measures, including physical distancing, as well as economic and social considerations.” 

Reciprocal arrangements on 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 “safe country” criteria, 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 Commission official.

What happens next: The UK will be considered with other non-EU countries at the next review scheduled to take place in the week of December 14, an EU official at the European Council told CNN. 

“The list of countries for which restrictions should be lifted is reviewed and, as the case may be, updated regularly,” the Council official explained, but said 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
  • people travelling for imperative family reasons.



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