Canada, Countries Across Europe Halt Travel to the UK Due to New Strain of COVID-19

Heathrow

Several countries around the world have cut off travel from the United Kingdom after a new, and potentially more contagious, strain of coronavirus emerged, according to reports.

Canada, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, India, Turkey, Switzerland, Austria, and Poland have all banned flights to and from Britain, while France has also cut off truck traffic for 48 hours.

The new strain, which was first detected in September and has since been called “out of control” by British Health Secretary Matt Hancock, has been popping up in London and southeastern England, The Associated Press reported Monday.

While it appears to be up to 70% more contagious, it is not clear if it is any more deadly than previous strains. A few cases have already been reported in Iceland, Denmark, and the Netherlands, the AP noted, citing the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Hancock told The BBC this has been "an incredibly difficult end to frankly an awful year.”

The new travel bans have caused chaos at Britain's borders, with long lines of truck traffic snarled in Kent, where many of the UK’s channel ports are located, the AP noted. Typically, about 10,000 trucks pass through the Port of Dover each day. The European Council called a meeting for Monday to coordinate EU actions going forward, according to the BBC.

The U.S. has not halted flights from the UK — several of which have been part of testing efforts to create COVID-19-free transatlantic flights — but New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called on America to do so.

“The United States has a number of flights coming in from the UK each day and we have done absolutely nothing. To me, this is reprehensible because this is what happened in the spring," Cuomo said in a statement Sunday. "How many times in life do you have to make the same mistake before you learn?… It's high time the federal government takes swift action, because today that variant is getting on a plane and landing in JFK, and all it takes is one person."

The new strain, which is spreading rapidly just weeks after the UK started rolling out a vaccine, has also resulted in a series of strict restrictions, with parts of southern and eastern England entering Tier 4 restrictions, CNN reported. In those areas, households will not be allowed to mix over the Christmas holiday and many businesses are required to close.

The new virus strain also comes as several European countries have been dealing with a rise in cases within their borders, with many imposing nightly curfews and restrictions on gatherings.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she’s not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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