A more-infectious and ‘out of control’ coronavirus variant has been reported in the UK as the country heads towards making vaccines.
Various European nations have begun imposing travel restrictions on the UK. Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, and Belgium have halted the flights. Measures vary and are initially short-term.
The UK has reported a daily increase of more than 13,000 cases, despite strict lockdown measures being implemented on 14th December.
An EU meeting will discuss a more coordinated response on Monday morning.
How countries have acted?
According to the international news agency, Netherlands has said it would ban all passenger flights from the UK until 1 January. It later said on Sunday that it would also bar ferry passengers arriving from the UK, although freight would continue.
France has also suspended all travel links, including freight Lorries, with the UK for 48 hours from midnight on Sunday (23:00 GMT).
Moreover, 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 refund. Trains will still run from Calais to Folkestone.
The government in Ireland has announced that flights reaching from England, Wales, and Scotland would be banned for 48 hours at least from midnight, and “in the interests of public health, people in Britain, regardless of nationality, should not travel to Ireland, by air or sea”. Ferry crossing for freight will not be closed.
What happened in the UK?
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has introduced a new tier-four level of restrictions for those areas.
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”.