- Fears around a new, more transmissible variant of COVID-19 have prompted multiple countries to cancel flights from the UK.
- The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Italy, France, Ireland, and Israel are among the nations that have placed restrictions on travel with the UK.
- Eurostar has canceled all journeys between London, Brussels, and Amsterdam.
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A growing number of countries, including France, Germany, and Ireland, announced that they will be restricting travel with the UK over fears of a fast-spreading variant of COVID-19.
The mutant coronavirus is believed to be up to 70% more transmissible than the original strain. In order to stop its spread, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that London and surrounding areas would suddenly be plunged into lockdown.
Dutch authorities confirmed at least one case of this COVID-19 variant had reached the Netherlands. Consequently, it was announced that flights carrying passengers from the UK would be banned until January 1, 2021.
Belgium followed suit. The country brought in a 24-hour ban on all UK entrants, starting midnight on Sunday.
Prime Minister Alexander De Croo told Belgian broadcaster VRT: “Of course, that could be extended should it appear that we have more conclusive data.”
Eurostar has since suspended all trains between London, Brussels, and Amsterdam.
On Sunday afternoon, Italian foreign minister Luigi di Maio said that the government would be suspending all travel from the UK to Italy.
He wrote on Twitter: “As a government, we have the duty to protect Italians. For this reason, after having notified the English government… we are about to sign an order to suspend flights with Great Britain.”
Shortly after, the Austrian government confirmed that air travel to and from the UK will be prohibited. The Israeli government has also banned entry to all non-Israelis flying from the UK, and earlier today, Israeli police escorted UK travelers to isolation at state-operated hotels.
—Ynetnews (@ynetnews) December 20, 2020
Later Sunday, French officials announced that people in the UK would be prohibited from entering France beginning at midnight. Initially, the ban will last 48 hours, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said, to allow for discussion with other EU members states about extra safety measures.
German health minister Jens Spahn announced Sunday that all flights from the UK were banned beginning Sunday at midnight. He said the German government planned to address further restrictions on Monday, according to DW.
And leaders in Ireland on Sunday announced a 48-hour ban on all flights from the UK, though it said it would continue to allow ferries to operate between Ireland and the UK to preserve supply chains, according to a report from RTE. Officials said they planned to reevaluate the travel restrictions Tuesday.
Flights between the UK and Bulgaria were likewise suspended Sunday through the end of January 2021, the Sofia Globe reported, with travelers from the UK required to partake in a 10-day quarantine upon arrival.
Canada, a member of the Commonwealth, also announced a 72-hour halt on flights from the UK, effective midnight.
“While no cases linked to this new strain have been identified in Canada, work continues to identify if this variant is present or has been previously observed in Canada,” government officials said in a statement, according to Reuters.