European neighbours shut doors to Britain as new coronavirus strain spreads

Europe Materials 20 December 2020 20:52 (UTC +04:00)
European neighbours shut doors to Britain as new coronavirus strain spreads

Several European countries 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, Trend reports citing Reuters.

Belgium said it would close its borders to trains and planes coming from the United Kingdom and the Netherlands also suspended flights. Italy said it was planning a similar ban.

Germany could also impose restrictions on flights from the United Kingdom and South Africa - which has also detected a new coronavirus strain, a German Health Ministry official said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and scientists announced on Saturday that the new virus strain had led to spiralling 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.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo said the ban on incoming travel from Britain covers Eurostar services via the Channel Tunnel and will take effect for at least 24 hours from midnight on Sunday, broadcaster VRT said.

Belgium was also in touch with France over road transit passengers from Britain, VRT said.

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio, announcing plans to halt flights to and from Britain, said: “Our priority is to protect Italy and our compatriots.”

The Netherlands banned flights carrying passengers from the United Kingdom from Sunday and the restrictions will remain in place until Jan. 1, the Dutch government said. It is monitoring developments and considering additional measures regarding other modes of transport.

The government issued an advisory saying “do not travel” unless it is absolutely essential.

Germany wants to ban all flights from the United Kingdom from midnight until Jan. 6, Bild newspaper said, citing government sources.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet will vote later on Sunday on a decree prepared by the health minister and she will hold a phone call with French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss a coordinated EU response to the new strain of the virus detected in Britain, it said.

The chancellery was not immediately available for comment.

Austria is also planning to ban flights from Britain, the APA news agency said, citing the health ministry.