Some European countries have placed new restrictions on travel to and from the United Kingdom on Sunday due to concern over a new strain of the coronavirus that is spreading rapidly there, the Reuters News agency reported.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and scientists announced Saturday that the new virus strain had led to spiraling infection numbers. The UK government tightened its COVID-19 restrictions for London and nearby areas and disrupted the Christmas holiday plans of millions of people.
Belgium will close its borders to planes and trains coming from the United Kingdom to prevent importing a new strain of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Alexander de Croo told the VRT broadcaster on Sunday.
The ban on incoming travel from the UK covers Eurostar services via the Channel Tunnel and will take effect for at least 24 hours from midnight on Sunday, VRT said.
The Netherlands will ban flights carrying passengers from the United Kingdom beginning Sunday. A travel ban will remain in place until Jan 1, the government said early Sunday, adding that it is monitoring developments and is considering additional measures regarding other modes of transport.
Italy plans to suspend flights to and from the UK over fears of a new strain of the coronavirus detected there, Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio said in a Facebook post. “Our priority is to protect Italy and our compatriots,” Di Maio said.
Germany could impose restrictions on flights from the United Kingdom and South Africa – which also has detected a new coronavirus strain – the German Health Ministry said on Sunday.
France is considering suspending flights and trains from the UK after a new coronavirus strain was detected there, BFM Television reported on Sunday. An official decision was expected later on Sunday, BFM said, without citing sources.
Austria also is planning to ban flights from the UK, the APA News agency said, citing the health ministry.
Spain said that in response to the moves by some of its European Union partners, it had asked the European Commission and the European Council for a coordinated community response to the new situation. Otherwise it would act unilaterally to defend its interests and citizens, the Madrid government said.