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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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TRAVEL NEWS

Everything you need to know about travel to, from and around Denmark this Easter

Whether you're driving to the in-laws in northern Jutland, taking the train, or flying to your family elsewhere in the world, here's everything we know about travel to, from, or around Denmark this Easter.

Everything you need to know about travel to, from and around Denmark this Easter

Track work between Copenhagen and Odense 

From 11pm on Maundy Thursday (April 6th) till midnight on Easter Sunday (April 9th) there are replacement buses on the line between Copenhagen and Odense, as Denmark’s track operator Banedanmark carries out renovation work on the tracks. 

Express InterCity trains between Copenhagen and Aalborg and Esbjerg will also no longer stop in Valby, Ny Ellebjerg or Køge Nord from March 31st until April 10th.

From Easter Monday until April 29th, the InterCity InterCityLyn+ to Aarhus is suspended, with travellers instead advised to take the PendlerLyn during rush hour. 

You can find the details of the disruptions between Copenhagen and Slagelse here, and between Slagelse and Odense here

Check your journey on DSB’s Rejseplaner web app for the latest information. 

Roads 

The Danish Road Directorate warned in its Easter traffic forecast of heavy traffic on Friday March 31st, particularly during the evening rush hour, when normal commuting traffic in and out of Copenhagen will be made even worse by people travelling to visit relatives over Easter.

Traffic is also expected to be heavier than usual on Saturday April 1st, Wednesday April 5th, and Thursday, April 6th.

The directorate expects return trips to Copenhagen after Easter Sunday on April 10th to be spread over several days, reducing the risk of traffic problems.  

It expects particularly heavy traffic on the E20 between Copenhagen, Odense and Esbjerg on the Jutland coast, and also on the E45 between Kolding and the German border at Padborg.

The coastal roads where many Danes have summer houses are also likely to be affected, with the directorate warning of traffic on national road 11 on the west coast of Jutland between Ribe and Ringkøbing, national road 16 between Hillerød on the outskirts of Copenhagen and northern Zealand, and national road 21 between Copenhagen and the Sjællands Odde peninsular in northwest Zealand. 

Here are the roads where heavy traffic is expected. 

Source: Danish Roads Directorate

Air 

While there are no strikes planned at Danish airports or among staff at the airlines servicing them, anyone flying to Spain, Germany, Italy, or the UK’s Heathrow airport should check to make sure that their flight is not going to be disrupted. 

Between now and April 13th, ground services and cargo handling unions in Spain working for Swissport are mounting 24-hour walkouts every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. 

This will impact most Spanish airports, including Madrid-Barajas, Barcelona-El Prat, Reus, Alicante, Valencia, Murcia, Málaga, Almería, Salamanca, Valladolid, Burgos, Logroño, Zaragoza, Huesca, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria and Tenerife Sur airports. It is not yet clear which flights will be affected. 

The German transport unions Ver.di and EVG mounted a 24-hour mega strike on March 27th and have threatened further strikes around Easter if they do not get a better pay offer from transport operators. 

Those flying to Italy should keep in mind that air traffic controllers working for the company Enav are planning to strike from 1pm to 5pm on April 2nd. 

READ ALSO: Calendar of the transport strikes expected in Italy this spring

Finally, 1,400 security guards at Terminal 5 at London Heathrow Airport plan to hold rolling strikes for 10 days from March 31st until April 9th, threatening “huge disruption and delays… throughout Easter.”

Heathrow’s management have said that they aim to keep the airport “open and operational despite unnecessary threats of strike action by Unite”.

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