10th February 2021
The global variances in the Covid-19 response are creating a real air of uncertainty for businesses and individuals alike. For recruitment agencies placing contractors overseas, it’s been a challenging time to stay on top of the constantly changing travel bans and updates. At 6CATS International, we appreciate that the situation can change on a daily basis so tapping into international markets can become difficult to manage without expert advice.
Here are the latest international contractor travel restrictions your agency needs to be aware of, according to Schengen Visa Information.
General view on travel in the EU
The European Union Council favours a coordinated approach to the necessary restrictions of free movement caused by the response to the pandemic. While decisions are left to the discretion of each EU member state, the consensus remains the same across the EU zone:
“Member States should discourage all non-essential travel to red and dark red areas, while at the same time seeking to avoid disruption to essential travel”, according to a press release by the EU Council.
International contractors can keep up-to-date with the relevant coloured areas mentioned in the statement on the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) website. The map presents the latest information in coloured areas of varying gradients, namely red, orange, green, and grey, with zones distinguished by their testing rate and test positivity.
Red refers to a high 14-day notification rate per 100,000 population of over 150 and/or a test positive rate equal or superior to 4%. Countries with a notification rate above 50 and a high positivity rate are marked red.
Orange refers to a notification rate below 150 and over 25. Test positivity over 4% within these notification rates below 50 is marked as orange. Green marks countries where the notification rate is below 25 per 100,000 population and the positivity rate is below 4%. At the time of writing, only Iceland qualifies as a green country.
Where you have contractors moving from a red zone into a “safer” area, there’s the likelihood that a mandatory Covid-19 test will be required before reaching the country and quarantine rules may also apply. The EU Council also recommends travellers from all non-green areas do a test before departure, regardless of the specific requirements of the destination country, in order to prevent the spread of the disease.
International contractor travel within the EU: Bans, exemptions and contractor travel restrictions
If you have international contractors who already live in the EU, they will be subject to restrictions across member states. Sweden, for example, has updated its travel ban on arrivals from Denmark, Norway and the UK. The ban is to remain active until February 14, after which time it will be reviewed for extension, removal, or amendment. Exemptions cover professional and contractor work for defence cooperation, humanitarian projects, and people transporting goods. Swedish citizens and Danes living or working in Sweden are also exempt, as well as children and accompanying adults who need to transit through Sweden to Denmark.
Lithuania has also updated its list of countries that will be subject to strict preventive measures, including a negative test that was taken less than 48 hours before arrival, as well as compulsory quarantine. Currently, travellers from the following European destinations will be asked to provide a negative test and isolate; Ireland, Denmark, the UK, Northern Ireland, the Netherlands, and Oslo. However, the Lithuanian authorities are considering exemptions for international contractor professionals who need to travel for work. Yet, it is unclear what kind of justification or documentation contractors and limited companies will need to provide.
Germany has shut its borders to all non-essential arrivals by air, sea, and land from Ireland, Portugal, and the UK. Some exemptions apply, however, to German residents and individuals who are crossing through Germany as part of a wider journey. Contractors working overseas could, therefore, travel through the country to reach their final destination, though it’s advisable to check this is still the case before they travel. Self-isolation, a Covid test, and registration to the www.einreiseanmeldung.de are, however, mandatory for all travellers.
Justification for your essential travel
EU member states are strict about non-essential travel, though the definition of this can vary from country to country.
France has shared its approach to essential work, banning arrivals for work-purposes when the reason is not deemed essential. According to Clement Beaune, the French Secretary of State for European Affairs, international contractors are authorised on the territory with documented justifications and only in the event of an indispensable mission that requires physical presence and cannot be delayed or cancelled without dramatic consequences. France will accept the following documentation:
- Statement by limited companies or employers for the travel
- Professional ID for members of international transport organisations (goods, passengers, and maritime transport)
Other countries, such as Lithuania or Sweden, have already clarified their approach to professional travel. Sweden doesn’t mention any authorised arrival outside from people transporting goods and Danes working in Sweden. Lithuania, on the other hand, states that there could be exemptions from the travel restrictions “where the purpose of the person’s journey is related to the performance of the work functions.”
Keeping on top of all travel restrictions of international contractor travel is a challenge. We strongly recommend following the map updates on the ECDC website, as all EU member states refer to the high-risk countries identified on the map when making decisions regarding travel restrictions. It is also critical to reach out to experts who can advise on a case-by-case basis so your recruitment firm doesn’t face the challenge of a contractor banned from entry on their arrival. Our team at 6CATS International is on hand to offer support and guidance – contact them today for more information.