Several European countries announced travel bans from the U.K. to combat the spread of an alleged ‘new and more contagious strain’ of coronavirus days before Christmas.
Within hours of the UK announcement on Saturday, the Netherlands said it would ban all passenger flights from the UK until 1 January. Belgium suspended flights and train arrivals from the UK from midnight on Sunday for at least 24 hours as a “precautionary measure”. While France, Germany, Italy, Ireland and Israel were expected to introduce restrictions of their own, the BBC reported.
The U.K. informed the World Health Organization Saturday that the mutant strain of coronavirus could spread quicker than previous strains, The Daily Caller reported.
“This is a precautionary measure and we will see later if we need additional measures,” Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said Sunday.
Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said Italy would also prohibit travel, but the details weren’t finalized.
“The U.K. has raised the alarm about a new form of Covid resulting from a mutation in the virus,” Di Maio said in a Facebook post. “Our priority is to protect Italy and our compatriots.”
Minister Boris Johnson had already ‘canceled Christmas’ by implementing strict measures limiting Christmas gathering and shopping in southern England Saturday as cases continue to rise in the U.K.
“I know how much emotion people invest in this time of year, and how important it is for grandparents to see their grandchildren,” Johnson said. “But when the virus changes its method of attack, we must change our method of defense.”