COVID-19 travel restrictions added amid new virus variants in Britain, other countries

Countries around the world have been introducing new restrictions, and tweaking existing ones, on travel from Britain and elsewhere amid concerns about new coronavirus variants.

The restrictions focus mainly on the U.K., which imposed strict new lockdown measures over the weekend because of what it described as the unusually rapid spread of a new variant there. A few other European countries have confirmed cases of the variant, and another variant considered especially infectious has been identified in South Africa.

After a rush of uncoordinated travel restrictions European Union member states independently imposed since Saturday night, the European Commission said Tuesday people returning from the U.K. should be able to do so provided they test negative for the virus, or quarantine. It said that “cargo flows need to continue uninterrupted.”

US health officials: No need to ban flights from UK even as it battles new coronavirus variant

Here is a look at restrictions currently in place:

Europe

France: Will start allowing EU citizens and British nationals with EU residency back from the U.K. as of midnight Tuesday, after previously banning all passenger and cargo traffic from Britain. To enter France, returning passengers must present a negative PCR virus test from the last 72 hours. No decision has been made yet on cargo traffic, but French PM Jean Castex said a solution was expected “in the coming hours.”

Belgium: Will lift its blanket ban on passenger travel from the U.K at midnight Tuesday, to allow its nationals or people whose primary residence is in Belgium to return home. Passengers will have to fill in a travel locator form and go into 7-day quarantine. Transit passengers from the U.K. en route to a non-EU country will also be allowed as of Wednesday to pass through, but not to stay in Belgium.

Germany: Will ban at midnight Tuesday through Jan. 6 all passenger transport from the U.K. and South Africa by rail, bus and ship. Germany already banned on Monday flights from the U.K. and South Africa from landing in its territory through Dec 31.

Netherlands: Banned flights from the U.K. at least until the new year.

Spain: Suspended flights from Britain on Tuesday until further notice, except for those carrying Spanish citizens or people with Spanish residency. Spain will also step up border controls with Gibraltar, the British colony on Spain’s southwestern coast.

Switzerland: Banned foreign nationals arriving from the U.K. and South Africa and ordered those who arrived since Dec. 14 to go into quarantine. Authorities said Tuesday some 10,000 people were estimated to have flown into the country from the U.K. since Dec 14 and that they were trying to track them.

Italy: Suspending flights from and to Britain until Jan. 6. Also forbids entrance into Italy by anyone who has transited through Britain in the last 14 days.

Russia: Suspended air traffic with the U.K. for one week starting Tuesday.

Austria: No passenger flights allowed to land from Britain through Jan. 1.

Denmark: Suspended flights from Britain until 0900 GMT Wednesday.

Sweden: Suspended all incoming travel from Britain and Denmark until further notice.

Norway: Banned incoming flights from Britain starting Monday for 48 hours.

Croatia: Announced Sunday night a 48-hour ban on flights from Britain.

Bulgaria: Banned all flights to and from Britain until Jan. 31.

Malta: Banned flights to and from Britain until further notice.

Finland: Suspending flights from Britain; national carrier Finnair ceased all U.K. flights for two weeks.

Greece: Hasn’t banned fights from Britain but arriving passengers must take a rapid test and quarantine for seven days.

Poland, Portugal, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, North Macedonia: Banned flights from Britain until further notice.

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