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- The Netherlands just announced new travel restrictions in response to new COVID-19 variants.
- Travelers from non-European countries must take a rapid test within four hours of their flight.
- KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, in response, canceled all of its long-haul flights.
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The Netherlands government announced a new COVID-19-related lockdown on Wednesday that severely limits international travel, prompting flag carrier KLM Royal Dutch Airlines to suspend all of its long-haul flights, according to Reuters.
New requirements mandated by the government require passengers to obtain a negative COVID-19 rapid test result no later than four hours prior to departure to the Netherlands. In addition, passengers must also have a negative result from a PCR test conducted within 72 hours from their flight’s departure to be let into the country.
The restrictions are some of the most stringent mandated by any national government this late in the pandemic and the country expects travel to markedly decrease as a result. In January, KLM had plans to serve over 30 countries outside of Europe with around 270 weekly long-haul departures, according to Reuters and Cirium data.
Travelers still must quarantine even with the two negative tests for at least five days before they can test-out with a negative PCR test. If a negative test result isn’t received after five days, the quarantine can end after 10 days.
The Netherlands also announced a ban for passenger flights from the following countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, South Africa, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela. KLM currently serves eight of those countries.
A ban on passenger flights from the UK, which was initially issued in December, has also been extended. The new restrictions on travel from those countries are expected to last for at least one month or until legislation is passed that outlines quarantine requirements for those travelers.
“The government is gravely concerned about the UK variant of coronavirus, which is even more infectious than the virus we are familiar with in the Netherlands,” the government said in a statement.
The Caribbean Netherlands is also impacted by the new order, according to the statement, meaning travel may be impacted to Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba, as well as the constituent countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands including Aruba, Sint Maarten, and Curaçao.
Bonaire recently opened its air borders to North America with plans for non-stop flights to the US in February.
International travel is being advised against for residents of the Netherlands until at least March 31, 2021. “Every journey a person makes increases the chance of causing more infections or of bringing new variants of coronavirus into the Netherlands.”
On the home front, citizens in the Netherlands are advised not to have more than one daily visitor over the age of 13 and make no more than one daily visit to another household. A curfew is also being planned to keep residents inside between the hours of 8:30 p.m. and 4:30 a.m.
The Netherlands is also restricting which types of travelers will be granted exemptions to enter the country during the pandemic. As a result, groups including business travelers and students will be barred from entry.
The government also made a point of noting that “people in long-distance romantic relationships wishing to travel to the Netherlands for a short period will no longer be granted entry.”
“We don’t want to look back a few weeks from now and realise that we did not do enough,” the statement said.
- 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.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
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.