Britons left in the cold: Europe reopens with French, Germans and Italians allowed quarantine-free holidays across the continent while UK shivers in isolation
- Europe is gradually reopening for tourists as coronavirus infection rates drop and border restrictions ease
- Germans, who were spared the worst of coronavirus, will soon be able to travel to 21 European countries
- That list includes the Spanish Balearic Islands, where they will be the only foreigners allowed for two weeks
- Italians will soon be able to travel to 13 countries, the French to 14, with exceptions of UK and mainland Spain
- Brits can only go to 10 countries in Europe – not including France or Germany – and flights are still limited
- But they face two full weeks of quarantine on their return, effectively scuppering the holiday plans of millions
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
Europeans can look forward to quarantine-free trips across the continent as lockdown rules are relaxed – but British holiday makers remain trapped in isolation.
Tourists from Germany, France and Italy are among those who will shortly be able to go on holiday to dozens of resort locations in foreign countries, and can crucially return unhindered afterwards.
While British holidaymakers are welcome on the beaches of certain nations, Boris Johnson’s government has scuppered the holiday plans of millions by insisting on two weeks of quarantine on their return to the UK.
Germans, French and Italians will be allowed into dozens of countries from next week. Tourists from Germany have been given priority access to Spain under a newly-unveiled pilot scheme to start taking down restrictions between countries that are nearing the end of their battles with the virus.
From Monday, up to 10,900 Germans will be allowed to visit the Balearic Islands including Ibiza and Mallorca without having to take a coronavirus test or quarantine for 14 days.
They will be the only visitors allowed into Spain until the country officially reopens its borders, due on July 1, as the country’s mainland is still not being considered for reopening by officials.
A host of other European countries including Italy, France, Belgium and Poland are also set to drop restrictions next week, though Britons will not be welcome in all of them.
Analysis carried out by MailOnline suggests that – from next week – British tourists will be lagging far behind other major European nations in terms of the number of countries they can visit, but even in these cases they will be met by a 14-day quarantine period upon return.
Under current proposals put forward by foreign governments, people from the UK would be able to visit 10 nations from June 15/16 without having to quarantine on arrival – including Germany, Belgium and Italy.
But following guidelines set out by Home Secretary Priti Patel from June 8, travellers coming back into the UK from any country will have to isolate unless they are on a limited list of mainly occupational exceptions.
Bon voyage: The destinations Europeans will be able to travel freely between from next week – while Britain is left in isolation
Spain will remain shut to all overseas tourists until at least July 1 – except for Germans, who will be allowed to visit the Balearic Islands including Mallorca (pictured) and Ibiza under a ‘pilot scheme’ due to start on Monday
Those in Northern Ireland would additionally be able to visit Ireland without having to quarantine.
That is compared to 21 countries that will have dropped border restrictions with Germany, including Cyprus, Denmark, and Greece – where British tourists will not be allowed to go.
Meanwhile the French will be allowed freely into 14 countries, while tourists from Italy – once the worst-affected country in Europe – will be allowed into 13.
Part of the problem for Britons is that, while UK daily case and death tolls have been falling consistently for weeks, they are still the highest reported in Europe – convincing some countries to keep restrictions in place.
Another issue is that many countries – notably Germany – have negotiated deals with their immediate neighbours to drop restrictions. The UK, as an island nation, only shares a land border with Ireland
Finally, UK rules requiring all foreign arrivals to quarantine for 14 days has convinced some other countries to follow suit.
Announcing France’s plans last week, French Prime Minister Éduoard Philippe said his country may impose like-for-like restrictions on visitors – which would mean quarantine for travellers from the UK.
Information on the French Consulate in London’s website says that for countries like the UK who imposed quarantines in an ‘uncoordinated fashion’ would reciprocally by requested to do the same period of quarantine.
Though Germany will allow British passengers to arrive from next week, it ‘strongly advises’ its own citizens not to make the journey to the UK.
The UK Foreign Office continues to advise against all non-essential travel overseas, though there is no law to stop people from going – provided they can find tickets. All arrivals, including UK nationals, must quarantine on return.
Speaking about Spain’s pilot scheme, Balearic Islands president Francina Armengol says she is happy with arrangement despite fears they could spread coronavirus.
German passengers will have to undergo temperature checks on arrival and fill out detailed questionnaires while in the air, but will not be subject to tests or quarantine.
Germany is set to drop its restrictions on foreign arrivals from June 16 including a requirement to quarantine on arrival, while its citizens will be allowed to visit some 21 European countries which have dropped restrictions
UK 14-day quarantine plan Q&A
What will happen?
Since June 8, all travellers arriving in the UK – by air, land or sea – have to fill in a form before being allowed into Britain. This will include British nationals coming home, as well as foreign visitors.
You have to provide an address where you will be staying and self-isolate there for 14 days, with no visitors and no trips outside.
Officials carrying out spot checks at addresses to ensure that people comply and public health officials will also carry out random checks by phone.
How will it work?
Passengers are able to complete a ‘contact locator form’ on the Government’s website up to 48 hours before departure.
There will be no paper versions of the form. Failing to complete it before travelling is a crime.
However, the scheme has been criticised because checks for the forms will only be done at random, meaning some people could slip through the net.
Will anyone be exempt?
Yes. Haulage workers, medics who are helping to fight the virus and some seasonal agricultural workers.
A full list will be published on the Government’s website.
This applies to foreigners from all countries, except Ireland, in order to protect the Common Travel Area.
How long will these restrictions be in place?
Home Secretary Priti Patel described them as ‘temporary health restrictions’ but, in reality, they will be in force for as long as coronavirus remains a threat.
However, there is a glimmer of hope for tourists wanting to go abroad in that the scheme will be reviewed every three weeks. So the restrictions could be lifted in time for the high season if the virus is kept under control.
Transport officials are also talking to other EU countries about the possibility of ‘air bridges’, which would allow the measures to be dropped for visitors returning from these places. Portugal, Spain and Greece have all expressed interest in creating these bridges at some point in the future.
There will also be follow-up phone calls once the holidaymakers have arrived.
Originally, it was intended to ask all arrivals to take a coronavirus test and then put them into isolation for six hours to await the result.
Around 10,900 are expected to start arriving on Monday and Tuesday and will spend five nights in hotels, other accommodation or their own second homes.
According to reports in the Spanish press, requests to join in the experiment have been ‘flooding’ in. They will be staying in Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera.
Not everyone is happy about the experiment, however. The Canary Islands have stressed they won’t be taking part in any similar plan unless visitors take coronavirus tests at source.
And the Andalusian government, which covers the Costa del Sol, says it wants to do something similar but is worried about the health checks planned by the Balearics.
Vice-president Juan Marín said: ‘What if the Balearic experiment doesn’t work? What if infections occur?
‘If so, Andalusia is not going to be able to receive German tourism.’
Spain’s Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Reyes Maroto, said yesterday that the Government was ‘open’ to study the proposal of the Canary Islands to carry out PCR tests on tourists.
However, to implement the measure, reciprocity agreements would have to be reached with other countries.
The Spanish government also says other regions of Spain CAN put forward their own proposals for holiday pilot schemes in the time remaining between now and July 1st.
The German tourists heading to the Balearics next week will be given public health forms (Passenger Location Card, PLC) to complete on the plane.
Union sources have shown their ‘surprise’ at the change of plan over diagnostic tests for workers in contact with tourists but the Balearic government says all details of the plan have been approved by the central government.
This includes the numbers of 10,900 which has escalated from the original 6,000.
Elsewhere in Europe – Greece, which currently allows a limited number of people to travel into Athens only, is also set to relax restrictions starting on Monday.
Travellers from 29 countries will be allowed in without compulsory testing or quarantine restrictions, while Thessolinki Airport will also be reopened.
Tourists from countries deemed to be ‘high risk’, including the UK, will still be subject to tests and quarantine of at least seven days, even if they test negative.
France is also set to drop its border restrictions on Monday, though may impose like-for-like restrictions on foreigners, meaning Britons would have to quarantine for 14 days. Belgium is also set to follow suit
Switzerland will also drop all entry restrictions for European travellers from Monday.
Norway and Denmark also plan to drop travel restrictions on neighbouring countries the same day.
Cyprus, which has already opened its borders to 13 countries including Germany, will further relax restrictions on June 20 – adding another six countries to the list. The UK will not be among them.
European leaders have urged a return to normality within Europe as soon as possible as they try to salvage the continent’s lucrative summer tourist season.
They have also urged countries to allow travellers from outside Europe back on to the continent from July 1.
The Commission, which has the power to make non-binding recommendations to EU states, said on Wednesday that it will publish guidelines for the reopening this week.
Josep Borrell, EU Minister of foreign affairs, said tourists will be allowed to enter subject to ‘principles and criteria’ – without outlining what those will be.
Europe was at one stage the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, and has reported more than 2.3million cases and 185,000 deaths so far.
However, lockdowns imposed across the continent in March have largely brought the disease under control, and it is now in remission in most countries.
Leaders have been gradually easing restrictions in recent weeks, and so far no country has reported a second wave of the virus.
Europe’s border restrictions: Where are you allowed to travel right now?
Europe, once the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, has beaten the disease into remission by imposing strict lockdowns including border restrictions which are now being gradually eased.
Each country is easing restrictions at its own pace, and leaders have stressed that measures will be reimposed if infections begin picking up again.
The majority of European countries still do not allow foreign arrivals, and even those which do – such as the UK – may impose additional restrictions on arrival, such as a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
The situation is further complicated by the fact that, faced with dwindling passengers numbers, many airlines cut flights or halted operations altogether – meaning while there are no legal restrictions on travel, they are difficult to get to.
Here is a country-by-country breakdown of what the current border restrictions are:
Pictured is a map showing which European countries have border restriction in place: Those coloured in red do not currently allow travellers from any European country in, unless for essential business. Those in yellow allow some travellers from neighbouring countries in, but restrict others. Those in green allow travellers from any European country in, though may impose additional restrictions on entry – for example the UK requires all arrivals to quarantine for 14 days
Currently no travellers are allowed into the country except for essential business, such as supply chain workers, French citizens returning from abroad, and health workers.
Germany has already relaxed land border restrictions with some of its neighbours including Austria, Switzerland, France and Denmark, with plans to allow visitors to freely enter the country from June 16.
The borders of Europe’s second-most visited country have been open to European tourists since June 3, with visitors allowed to freely enter the country and move around from region to region
Authorities in Madrid have forbid foreign arrivals into Spain even from European countries, except on essential business.
The country has said it will not reopen to foreign arrivals, except the German pilot scheme, until July 1.
The UK has never closed its borders to arrivals from the rest of Europe, and the borders continue to remain open.
However, new restrictions applied from June 8 mean that all new arrivals, including UK citizens, will be required to quarantine for 14 days – effectively putting a stop to tourism.
Borders are currently open to arrivals from Europe and overseas, though passengers are required to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival or face a hefty fine or prison sentence. Restrictions do not apply to travellers from Northern Ireland.
Belgium currently restricts travel into the country for all EU citizens, except those on essential business.
Travellers from both inside and outside Europe are currently banned from entering the country, except to carry out essential business.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Augusto Santos Silva has pledged that tourists from Europe and other Portuguese-speaking countries will be allowed entry ‘this summer’, though has stopped short of giving an official date.
Foreign nationals currently trying to enter the country without a valid reason, from both inside and outside Europe, will be denied entry.
The country currently allows arrivals from all European countries which do not require a visa for entry, such as Schengen Zone countries and the UK.
However, the visa application process has been halted – meaning arrivals that would usually require a visa cannot enter.
Foreign visitors are currently not allowed into Denmark – with limited exceptions made for people from neighbouring countries who are in a relationship with one of its citizens.
Visitors from low-risk countries are currently allowed in, but only via Athens airport and must be tested on arrival – facing seven days of quarantine if the test is negative and 14 days if it is positive.
On June 9, Cyprus dropped travel restrictions on citizens arriving in the country from 13 locations which have the lowest coronavirus transmission rates – including the likes of Germany, Austria, Greece, and Denmark.
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