A growing number of countries have banned flights from the UK in an effort to stop the spread of a new mutant strain of Covid-19.
In the EU, the following countries have banned flights from the UK, at the time of writing:
- France (for 48 hours from midnight on Sunday 20 December)
- Germany (starting at midnight on Sunday until at least 31 December)
- Italy (until 6 January 2021)
- Poland (from midnight on Monday, but with no word on when the ban will be lifted)
- Belgium (for 24 hours from midnight on Sunday)
- Austria (from midnight on 22 December, no date for when the ban will be lifted)
- Bulgaria (from midnight on Sunday, no date for when the ban will be lifted)
- Finland (from midnight on Monday for two weeks)
- Denmark (for 48 hours from Monday)
- The Netherlands (from Sunday morning, with restrictions due to last until at least the end of the year)
The Czech Republic has also introduced stricter quarantining measures for travellers arriving from the UK.
Outside of the EU, a number of other countries have also banned flights from the UK.
Turkey and Morocco have announced that they will be suspending air travel from the UK, and the official Saudi Press Agency reports that Saudi Arabia is also suspending its international flights for one week.
El Salvador has also announced that it is barring entry to anyone who has visited the UK in the previous 30 days.
Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, has said that from midnight on Sunday, Canada is placing a 72 hour stop on flights from the UK.
Colombia, Chile, Argentina and Israel have also banned travellers from the UK.
What about travel from the UK to Ireland?
The Irish government announced on Sunday that it would be imposing a 48 hour ban on flights from Britain to Ireland. These restrictions came into force at midnight on Sunday.
The Irish government said, “The flight ban will remain in place for Monday 21 and Tuesday 22 December, and will be reviewed on Tuesday 22 December.
“It affects people in Great Britain regardless of nationality.”
What is happening with other countries?
Other countries are also preparing to ban flights from the UK, or are at least implementing stricter measures.
Spain has announced that it will cut flights from the UK if there is no joint EU response to the threat carried by the new strain of the virus.
Portugal has also said that only Portuguese people and residents of the country can arrive from the UK, and that everyone must show proof of a negative Covid test, which is available at airports.
Sweden is also preparing to block entry from the UK, however details on this decision are not yet clear.
What do we know about the new Covid-19 strain?
The new coronavirus strain was first identified in September, and in November it made up around a quarter of the cases in London alone.
Dr Susan Hopkins, from Public Health England, told Sky on Sunday, “[The new strain] has been detected in many other parts of the country. Every region has cases but with very small numbers.
“It has also been detected in Wales, in Scotland, we have not had any detected in Northern Ireland.”
The variant has also been found in the likes of Denmark and Australia.
According to scientists, the new strain is 70 per cent more transmissible than the original virus.
There is no evidence that this mutation is any more likely to be deadly, and for now experts say that developed vaccines will work against it.
Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Chris Witty, said, “Given this latest development, it is not more vital than ever that the public continue to take action in their area to reduce transmission.”