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EU says blanket UK travel ban should end to allow people to return home

The European Commission has recommended countries lift the blanket transport ban on the UK to allow residents to return home and for essential travel. Each country will now have to decide whether to follow the recommendation.

EU says blanket UK travel ban should end to allow people to return home
Photo: AFP

The Commission's recommendation is that people heading to their country of residence should be allowed to travel, along with EU citizens heading home and essential freight traffic.

“While it is important to take swift temporary precautionary action to limit the further spread of the new strain of the virus and all non-essential travel to and from the UK should be discouraged, essential travel and transit of passengers should be facilitated,” the statement said.

“Flight and train bans should be discontinued given the need to ensure essential travel and avoid supply chain disruptions,” it added.

Travel from the UK to the EU will likely be dependent on travellers taking a Covid-19 test.

Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, said: “Given the current uncertainties and in light of the precautionary principle, Member States should take coordinated action to discourage non-essential travel between the UK and the EU.

“At the same time, blanket travel bans should not prevent thousands of EU and UK citizens from returning to their homes. While precautions are needed to contain the spread of the new coronavirus variant, with today's Recommendation, we therefore ensure that the restrictions are coordinated and provide for the necessary exemptions for citizens and residents returning home and other essential travellers.”

The recommendations will be put to EU ambassadors later on Tuesday.

The Commission can only make recommendations to EU countries but member states are in control of decisions regarding their borders.

Countries like France and Germany, which had been pushing for a Europe-wide solution, seem likely to go along with the recommendations, while others such as Italy which had already put in place a ban until January 6th may decide to keep their existing restrictions in place.

If adopted it would mean the following people could travel 

  • Hauliers bringing freight traffic
  • EU or Schengen zone nationals currently in the UK
  • Non-EU nationals who are currently in the UK but have their permanent residence in an EU or Schengen zone country.

'Tests or quarantine'

It was unclear what evidence will be needed to prove residency.

“However, Union citizens and UK citizens travelling to their Member State or country of residence as well as third-country nationals that enjoy EU free movement rights should be exempted from further temporary restrictions provided that they undergo a test or quarantine,” the Commission statement said.

“Transit of passengers, especially for essential travel, should be facilitated without quarantine. A test can be required, but authorities need to inform about such requirement in advance or offer testing during the journey.”

The Commission's statement also noted that “Until the end of December, free movement rules still apply to the UK. This means that Member States should not in principle refuse the entry of persons travelling from the UK.”

After the end of the transition period, the UK will be subject to Council Recommendation on the temporary restriction on non-essential travel into the EU.”

 

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STRIKES

TRAVEL: Delays expected as Italian airport workers strike on Friday

Passengers travelling to and from Italian airports were warned to expect delays on Friday, January 27th, due to strikes by baggage handlers and other staff, with Milan's Linate set to be worst affected.

TRAVEL: Delays expected as Italian airport workers strike on Friday

Strike action on by staff from airport ground service companies may result in delays and queues at some Italian airports, with ticket desks, check-in and baggage handling likely to be affected.

At the national level, ground support staff will take part in a strike held by several of Italy’s biggest trade unions during the day, while an additional strike by baggage handlers at Milan’s Linate airport is expected to cause further disruption.

“It won’t be so much a problem of cancelled flights, even if sometimes the airlines seize the opportunity to cancel one that would leave half empty, but of delays,” Renzo Canavesi, CUB union leader for the Lombardy region, told La Stampa.

READ ALSO: Should you travel in Italy when there’s a strike on?

At Linate, ground service company Swissport Italia and handling companies Airport Handling and Air Cargo plan to strike on Friday.

Staff from Swissport Italia will hold a 24-hour strike at Linate, while the other two ground operators will strike for four hours (from 10.30am to 2.30pm for Airport Handling; from 9pm to 1am of the next day for Airport Cargo).

Passengers are advised to arrive early for flights and to check the status of their service before leaving for the airport.

Passengers may be entitled to compensation in the event of severe delays or flight cancellations. See our guide for further details.

You can keep up to date with the latest strike news from Italy HERE.

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