The Netherlands and Belgium (followed by other European countries) ban flights from UK to prevent spread of Covid-19 mutation

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Dutch government bans all passenger flights from the UK until January 1 as a ‘precautionary’ bid to limit the spread of mutated virus strain.

Belgian government bans all passenger flights and Eurostar trains from the UK from midnight on Sunday for at least 24 hours.

British Airways at gate in Schiphol
© Maarten Van Den Driessche

An infectious mutation of the COVID-19 virus is circulating in the United Kingdom. It is said to spread more easily and faster and is more difficult to detect,” the Dutch health ministry said in a statement.

The Dutch public health body, the RIVM, therefore “recommends that any introduction of this virus strain from the United Kingdom be limited as much as possible by limiting and/or controlling passenger movements”.

The health ministry added that a “case study in the Netherlands at the beginning of December revealed a virus with the variant described in the United Kingdom“.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s cabinet’s ordered the ban on flights from the UK as a “precautionary” measure, the ministry said, adding that the Dutch government is reviewing other modes of transport.

The government is closely monitoring developments abroad with regard to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and is considering additional measures regarding other modes of transport. Over the next few days, together with other EU member states, it will explore the scope for further limiting the risk of the new strain of the virus being brought over from the UK. The government wishes to emphasise once again that travelling abroad carries a substantial risk of spreading coronavirus. Do not travel unless it is absolutely essential.

The Netherlands is under a five-week lockdown until mid-January with schools and all non-essential shops closed to slow a surge in the virus.

Belgium is following in the footsteps of the Netherlands and banning flights from the UK after a new strain of coronavirus was discovered.

Belgium will ban, as a precaution, flights from the United Kingdom from this Sunday midnight for at least 24 hours, said Prime Minister Alexander De Croo in the programme De Zevende Dag on Eén (VRT) television channel.

Anyone travelling by plane or train to Belgium from the United Kingdom will not be able to enter the territory. Eurostar rail connections from the UK are also temporarily suspended.

UPDATE

Italy bans flights from the UK as well. France and Germany are expected to follow suit.

UPDATE

And Austria, Italy, Ireland, Luxembourg, Latvia, Romania, Bulgaria, …

Elsewhere, also Kuwait and Turkey prohibit flights from the UK.

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