A major theme for the new UK- EU relationship post-Brexit is what sort of civil society rights citizens and foreign nationals will enjoy in each other's jurisdictions.
There are some concerns throughout the democratic world that the tough temporary measures that have had to be imposed to combat Covid-19, including increased police powers to enforce compliance with restrictions on movement, will lead to a more permanent erosion of human rights when the immediate emergency passes.
In this context, it may be interesting to compare current travel restrictions in France and the UK imposed as a result of Covid-19. In France, at least until 15 April 2020 [just extended to 11 May 2020] when the situation will be reviewed, an Official Travel Declaration - which is a self-generated online document - is required to permit any individual travel within the country and even then, according to the French Consulate website in the UK, internal travel is only permitted for any of the following reasons:-
- Travelling between home and workplace when home working is not possible
- Buying basic necessities in authorised local shops
- Visiting healthcare professionals
- Travelling to leave one's children in childcare, or to help vulnerable people, on the strict condition that one takes preventative steps to minimise the risk the spread of the infection
- Doing purely individual physical exercise near home and not with a group of people
- Attending a court or administrative summons; or
- Carrying out tasks in the public interest at the request of the administrative authorities.
The social distancing and lockdown rules in the UK, imposed particularly by the Health Protection ( Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 ( SI 2020/350) but also by other primary and secondary legislation, are strikingly similar, although so far no personal Official Travel Declaration has been introduced for individuals to carry.
What this does show is that the UK and France (and indeed the same also appears to be true of other EU countries) tend to think along the same lines, at least where major issues of life and death are concerned.
Both UK and EU politicians have from time to time emphasised their common democratic and humanitarian values and let us hope that Brexit purism will not be allowed to get in the way of safeguarding people's lives medically, politically and economically.