Belgium, Italy, and other European nations are following the Netherlands’ lead and closing their borders for all travel to and from the UK, due to a new strain of SARS-CoV-2 that is spreading in southern England.
The string of travel bans announced on Sunday was started by Belgium. Its restrictions come into force at midnight and will affect air travel and Eurostar trains, which connect the country to the UK via France, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said in an interview.
The Belgian leader described the decision as a “precautionary measure” that followed a similar move by the Netherlands, which closed its border for the UK until at least January.
There are still many questions to be asked, about the mutation itself and about whether or not it has already reached the European mainland.
Belgium already treats the UK as a “red zone” country and requires all people arriving from there to self-quarantine for up to seven days and take a Covid-19 test.
Even before the British lock down announcement, Belgium was preparing to tighten rules for international travel next week and possibly to ban UK nationals from entry starting January 1, to reflect a change in the country’s status after Brexit.
Later in the day, Italy said it was also suspending travel to and from the UK, due to concerns about the new variant.
Rome has ordered a countrywide lock down for the upcoming holidays, shutting non-essential stores, restricting home visits, and instructing restaurants that they can only serve take-out food.
A similar move was announced by Austria, which, like Italy, offered no immediate details on the timing of the ban, according to the news agency APA. Meanwhile, the Czech Republic has imposed stricter quarantine measures for people arriving from the UK.
The new strain of the virus is said to be significantly more infectious than those identified previously. British Health Secretary Matt Hanckock said Sunday the new version was “out of control” and that more restrictive measures were necessary to curb its spread.
The Tier-4 lock downs announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on came as a big disappointment to the British public, who were hopeful that a relaxation of the guidelines would come for Christmas as promised. Johnson said the new Corona-virus strain has made the plan impossible to implement.
RT. com / ABC Flash Point Politics News 2020.