Covid: Nations impose UK travel bans over new variant

 Covid: Nations impose UK travel bans over new variant

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image copyrightPA Media

image captionGatwick Airport on Sunday, as European nations began imposing travel bans

European nations have begun to impose travel bans on the UK after it reported a more-infectious and “out of control” coronavirus variant.

Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium are all halting flights. The measures vary and are initially short-term but the French rules also affect Channel freight.

An EU meeting on Monday morning will discuss a more co-ordinated response.

The new variant has spread quickly in London and south-east England.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday introduced a new tier four level of restrictions for those areas, scrapping a planned relaxation of rules over the Christmas period for millions of people.

Top health officials said that there was no evidence the new variant was more deadly, or would react differently to vaccines, but it was proving to be up to 70% more transmissible.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the new strain “was out of control. We have got to get it under control”, admitting that this was “an incredibly difficult end to frankly an awful year”.

Which countries have acted and how?

Within hours of the UK announcement on Saturday, the Netherlands said it would ban all passenger flights from the UK until 1 January.

Later on Sunday it said it would also bar ferry passengers arriving from the UK, although freight would continue.

The country on Sunday reported a daily increase of more than 13,000 cases – a new record, despite tough lockdown measures being applied on 14 December.

As Sunday wore on, major new restrictions were imposed by key European nations.

image copyrightPA Media

image captionThere are already huge lorry queues to enter Dover port in Kent because of Christmas stockpiling and Brexit concerns

France suspended all travel links, including freight lorries, with the UK for 48 hours from midnight on Sunday (23:00 GMT).

Thousands of lorries move between the countries every day.

In response to France’s ban, Eurotunnel said it would suspend access to its Folkestone terminal from 22:00 GMT for traffic heading to Calais. People booked to travel on Monday can get a r

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Redak staff

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