Multiple countries have imposed a travel ban on the U.K. after it reported a more-infectious coronavirus variant, it has been revealed.
Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium have stopped all flights after a new variant of the coronavirus spread quickly throughout London and south-east England.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Saturday a new tier four level of restrictions for those areas, including nonessential shops, gyms, cinemas, hairdressers and bowling alleys will be forced to close for two weeks.
“The message is that this is the year to lift a glass to those who aren’t there, in the knowledge that it’s precisely because they’re not there to celebrate Christmas with you this year that we all have a better chance that they’ll be there next year,” Johnson said.
Top health experts have said there is no evidence the new variant is more deadly but that it is more than 70 percent transmissible. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the new strain “was out of control. We have got to get it under control.”
Sunday saw 13,000 new cases reported – a new record for the U.K. and that led Ireland to announce flights arriving from the U.K. would be banned for 48 hours. Both Turkey and Switzerland have temporarily banned all flights from the U.K. as well.
The Netherlands banned flights from the U.K. for at least the rest of the year while Belgium issued a flight ban for 24 hours starting at midnight. Italy also has plans to suspend flights to and from the U.K. over concerns about the new coronavirus variant, Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio announced Sunday afternoon.
Outrage over the announcement has swept across the country, with many blaming the government for a lack of leadership, something the United States has also seen with U.S. President Donald Trump being criticized for his slow response to the pandemic.