Italy, Belgium and Netherlands ban flights from UK over variant

Italy, Belgium and Netherlands ban flights from UK over variant
Trains to Belgium have been halted, with France considering similar measures. Source: Getty Images
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Daily US Times: A number of European countries including Italy, Belgium and Netherlands have or are considering banning travel from the United Kingdom to prevent the spread of a more infectious variant of coronavirus.

Both Belgium and the Netherlands have suspended flights while trains to Belgium have also been banned.

The foreign minister of Italy has indicated his government plans to ban flights. Germany and France are among others reportedly planning similar action.

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

On Sunday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced a new tier four level of coronavirus restrictions, scrapping a planned relaxation of rules over the Christmas period for millions of people.

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

The World Health Organization (WHO) says the same mutation has also been detected in the Netherlands, Australia and Denmark.

On Saturday, within hours of the UK announcement, the Netherlands said it would ban all passenger flights from the country from 06:00 on Sunday until 1 January.

Pending “greater clarity” on the situation in the UK, the government of the Netherlands said that further “risk of the new virus strain being introduced to the Netherlands should be minimised as much as possible”.

Belgium is suspending train arrivals and flights from the UK from midnight Sunday. Prime Minister Alexander De Croo told the ban would be in place for at least 24 hours as a “precautionary measure”, adding “we will see later if we need additional measures”.

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