UK/Schengen travel clarified

There has been confusion following President Macron’s announcement yesterday of Schengen/EU border closures – as to whether the UK is included.

To clarify: last night Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves le Drian said the UK is considered as being within the EU/Schengen area, for purposes of the border closures.

The UK is being treated as still being in the EU, as it is in the Brexit transition period.

Mr Le Drian said: “The measure of closing the external borders concerns all countries outside the EU, the Schengen Zone and the UK.” 

Edward Llewellyn, the British ambassador to France, also said in a statement: “I wanted to reassure you that this will not apply to the UK. The Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves le Drian, Europe Minister Amélie de Montchalin and the Interior Minister, Christophe Castaner, have all made statements in public to that effect this evening.”

It is unclear however whether people coming into France from the UK may be subject to checks on their health or questions about the reasons for travel, and we have asked the British Embassy and the French Foreign Affairs Ministry.

An embassy spokeswoman said they are still seeking clarification on the details.

The strict rules now in place for ordinary travel within France raise questions as to whether anyone should now be travelling for purely ‘leisure’ reasons, as opposed to for example work or a family emergency.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said yesterday: “We think that non-essential travel should be reduced right now, too, in order not to spread the virus further, be it within the European Union or by leaving the European Union, but also to avoid non-essential travel to not have more potential strain on our healthcare system.” 

The European Commission has put out border management advice to member states including proposing that all people crossing the Schengen Zone’s external borders should be subject to health checks and provided with access to healthcare if necessary.

However it said entry could only be refused to non-resident third-country nationals who are infected or have been especially exposed to risk. They could also alternatively be placed in quarantine, the commission said.

States within the Schengen Zone could also introduce internal (ie. for travellers within the zone) border checks if justified for by the situation in the country, the commission said.