European countries ban flights from UK over Covid fears

On Sunday, Italy announced it had joined Belgium and the Netherlands in banning flights from the UK.

European countries ban flights from UK over Covid fears Pixabay
Cancelled: European countries ban flights from UK over coronavirus fears.

A number of European countries have banned flights from the UK in a bid to prevent the spread of a new strain of coronavirus. 

It follows tough new restrictions announced on Saturday that will see mainland Scotland placed into a full lockdown from Boxing Day as the relaxation of coronavirus rules were scaled back to Christmas Day only.

Travel restrictions will also be put in place, with police doubling the force’s presence at the English border to stop people breaking restrictions.

It follows the decision of a number of European countries to imposed bans on flights from the UK over fears the new more-transmissible variant of coronavirus in England could spread.

On Sunday, Italy announced it had joined Belgium and the Netherlands in banning flights from the UK.

Foreign minister Luigi Di Maio tweeted: “As the Government we have the duty to protect Italians, for this reason, after having advised the English Government, with the health ministry we are signing the measure to suspend flights with Great Britain.”

Eurostar trains between Belgium and the UK have been cancelled from Monday, following the Belgian government’s announcement that borders with the UK will close at midnight on Sunday.

Additionally no trains will run between London, Brussels and Amsterdam, however trains will continue to operate on the Paris route.

French transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari later tweeted that the country was suspending all traffic from the UK from midnight for at least 48 hours.

Meanwhile, the Irish government has imposed a 48-hour ban on travel from Britain to Ireland, the country’s transport minister has confirmed.

The restrictions will come into force at midnight on Sunday.

The rules are to be reviewed during Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting but it is understood they will be extended beyond then.

Eamon Ryan said there will be a 48-hour ban on flights arriving in Ireland from Britain, while ferries will continue to operate for freight.

Speaking at Government Buildings in Dublin on Sunday, Ryan said: “We need haulage coming in to keep our shelves full but other passengers will be restricted.

“I talked to the UK minister this morning and have been talking throughout the day with the Taoiseach [Micheal Martin] and the Tanaiste [Leo Varadkar], the health minister, foreign affairs minister and others involved.

“We have to do this because the UK Government themselves has put in place very strict restrictions on movements.

“This new strain of coronavirus, which they have identified, seems to have a much higher transmission rate.

“On a precautionary basis it’s right for us to follow up on the Dutch, Belgium, Italian and other governments will do the same.

“Any passengers who are in transit will have to set up a mechanism to repatriate them in a safe way, but general travel between here and Britain is going to be restricted and we are going to review that at Cabinet to see if there will be any further changes.”

It was later announced that Boris Johnson will chair a meeting of the Government’s Cobra civil contingencies committee on Monday.

A No. 10 spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister will chair a COBR meeting tomorrow to discuss the situation regarding international travel, in particular the steady flow of freight into and out of the UK. 

“Further meetings are happening this evening and tomorrow morning to ensure robust plans are in place.”