28th September 2021
With restrictions being lifted and international contractors now able to work more freely in the EU and its member states and take up new assignments, having travel insurance but more importantly suitable and cost-effective medical insurance, is vital for peace of mind both for themselves and their families. This is especially the case when projects cannot be completed due to illness. In these instances, having medical insurance coverage and international health insurance that allows access to local healthcare is critical.
We take a look at some of the latest international travel news affecting contractors in Europe and why the constantly changing environment has made contractor health insurance so critical.
Contractor Health Insurance
As reported by SchengenVisInfo.com, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced that the French government was finalising a bill to extend the requirement of its Health Pass when attending certain venues in a bid to control any potential resurgence of Covid-19. According to daily newspaper Le Parisien, the bill will be put before the Council of Ministers on 13th October. Despite the caution shown by authorities in France, President Macron has stipulated that his government would review restrictions, especially in areas where cases of the virus had dropped significantly.
France’s Health Pass or ‘pass sanitaire’ was introduced back in June 2021, but became effective from August, with all French citizens required to show it when going to restaurants, bars, shopping centres, hospitals, trains and for travel purposes when flying abroad. To be allowed into these venues, individuals must present either a certificate or show evidence of a recent Covid test result carried out in the last 48 hours or proof that they have recovered recently from the virus.
A government statement read, “The ‘health pass’ is implemented as part of the national reopening plan. It makes it possible to limit the risks of epidemic spread, to minimize the probability of contamination in risky situations, and therefore the pressure on the healthcare system while allowing certain activities or places to be kept open in addition to the health protocols specific to each individual sector.” The President has also urged all citizens to get vaccinated given that ongoing 48 hour testing is not practical.
Authorities in Portugal announced that vaccinations and certificates from third countries would now be recognised as long as certain conditions were met, which include having received a European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved vaccine such as AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson. A certificate to show that they have recovered will also be accepted. “All citizens wishing to travel to Portugal by air, except children under the age of 12, must present the EU Covid Digital Certificate or vaccination or recovery certificate issued by third countries and whose validity is now recognised,” the government clarified in a press release.
This means that all travellers and visitors arriving in Portugal from third country destinations will no longer have to undergo testing before leaving their home countries and neither will they have to take a test upon arrival or have to self-isolate. This, however, might not be applicable to every country, so travellers are urged to check the latest information. The government has specified that for any document to be recognised, certain information must be provided, such as the issuing body, name and manufacturer of vaccine, number of doses received, dates and country where the vaccines were administered. Recovery certificates must stipulate a validity date.
Importance of global contractor health insurance
Meanwhile the US’s decision to allow fully vaccinated travellers to enter its territory was a much-needed boost for business travellers as well as families and loved ones who can be reunited since the pandemic wreaked havoc back in March 2020. The White House’s announcement on the 20th September will allow vaccinated travellers from the EU, UK, China, India, South Africa and Brazil to enter the US, likely to be at a date to be defined in November. While foreign travellers will need to show a certificate or negative PCR test taken in the previous 72 hours, US nationals will need to present a negative test from the last 24 hours and have bought a test to take on arrival.
As noted by the World Tourism and Travel Council (WTCC), EU visitors alone contributed $35bn to the US economy in 2019, of which almost a third ($11bn) was attributable to UK tourists. WTCC research also found that the reopening of travel to the US could net the world’s largest economy almost $200m per day, a significant injection to its ailing economy. “Today’s announcement is a major step forward. Allowing access to the US for those vaccinated will open travel to the US for many who have been locked out for the past 18 months,” said Willie Walsh, Director of the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Temporary internal borders
In other news, several countries including France, Norway, Denmark, Austria and Germany have introduced temporary internal borders to combat the spread of the virus but also as a counter-terrorism measure for national security reasons and to fight organised crime. Border controls have been a controversial topic in the European Parliament with MEPs calling for their abolition given that they go against freedom of movement, one of the fundamental pillars of the EU constitution.
While travel restrictions will continue to change for the foreseeable future, with international contractors being allowed to take up more opportunities in EU member states, and given ongoing virus concerns around the globe, the need for international medical and health insurance is key should contractors need to submit claims for help with unexpected loss of income. While health and income protection should be a top priority moving forward, global contractors must also ensure that they remain fully compliant with local tax legislation to avoid fines from local tax authorities. For advice on tax, social security or immigration, you can speak to our 6CATS International experts.