EU Countries and beyond began suspend travel with the United Kingdom
Discovery of a new coronavirus strain in UK causes scare
London (Sputnik) :UK government practically locked down parts of the country, including London, after admitting that more than half of all new COVID-19 cases had been caused by a mutated coronavirus strain that can transmit up to 70-percent faster. As UK citizens rushed out of the locked down areas ahead of Christmas, many countries chose to close borders with the whole of the United Kingdom in a bid to prevent the import of the new strain.
Italy, where the mutated strain has already been detected in a returnee from the United Kingdom, has suspended all arrivals from UK airports and banned entry of persons with travel history in the UK over the past two weeks.
“I signed a new decree barring flights from the United Kingdom and prohibiting entry to those who visited the United Kingdom in the past 14 days. Those who have already arrived in Italy from the UK will have to get tested,” Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza said in a statement, published on the ministry’s website. Clarifying details to Italian broadcaster Rai3, the minister said the new restrictions would remain in force until January 6. Estonia will suspend air traffic with the United Kingdom by the year-end, as announced by Prime Minister Juri Ratas.
“The government agreed on the need to take precautions and, along with other countries, temporarily suspend the air traffic with the UK until the new year. The decision was made to protect the health of our people. The recommendation to avoid travel abroad during the Christmas season and school break remains in effect,” Ratas said, as quoted in a press release on the Estonian government’s website.
The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) recommended to suspend passenger travel between Finland and the UK on Sunday. Later, the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom said that the country was suspending air traffic with the UK for two weeks beginning Monday.
Cyprus introduced new quarantine measures, coming into force on Monday, requiring passengers arriving from the UK to self-isolate for 14 days or 10 days if they test negative for COVID-19.
Spain said that it was going to strengthen passenger monitoring at airports and ports in what concerns coronavirus test results. Currently, all people arriving in Spain from countries with high COVID-19 infection rates must present negative coronavirus test results, obtained no earlier than 72 hours prior to arrival.
Sweden is expected to announce an official ban on UK arrivals on Monday, Swedish broadcaster SVT reported, citing Home Affairs Minister Mikael Damberg.
Lithuania called an urgent meeting of its Government Emergency Commission to decide the response measures. “Our commission decided to suspend all passenger flights [from the UK] to Lithuania. The decision will be recommended to the government,” Lithuanian Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite said after the meeting.
Ireland will close its border with the UK for all arrivals by sea, air and road for 48 hours, the Irish Times reported.
Bulgaria will suspend the air traffic with the UK for over a month — from the midnight of Monday until January 31 — as per the decision of the Bulgarian cabinet at an emergency meeting, the Bulgarian National Television reported.
The Netherlands was the first country to ban flights from the UK on Sunday morning and until January 1.
Israel banned all arrivals from the UK indefinitely, along with arrivals from Denmark and South Africa, as announced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s press service.
El Salvador has banned entry to people with travel history in the United Kingdom, as well as South Africa, where the new strain has also been detected, over the past 30 days.
“Effective immediately, any person who flew via the United Kingdom or South Africa or visited any these countries in the past 30 days is prohibited from entering our country,” Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele said on Twitter.
Germany will stop receiving flights from the UK from Monday midnight and from South Africa later in the day, as announced by Health Minister Jens Spain. The German government is expected to announce additional details on Monday. France has closed the border with the UK for 48 hours for all kinds of arrivals, as announced by Prime Minister Jean Castex. Paris will use the 2-day pause to clarify the health situation in the UK and coordinate a common response strategy with EU member states, according to the official.