UK to Europe flight bans: What do we know so far?

PA

A growing number of European nations have banned flights from the UK in a bid to stop a mutant strain of coronavirus crossing their borders.

Here the PA news agency answers some key questions on the latest changes to international travel rules:

– Which European countries have banned flights from the UK?

France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Austria and the Netherlands have all said they will halt flights arriving from the UK.

The Czech Republic has imposed stricter quarantine measures for people arriving from Britain.

– When do the flight bans start and how long do they last?

The Netherlands ban came into force on Sunday morning, with it due to last for at least the rest of the year.

Belgium's prime minister Alexander De Croo issued a flight ban order for 24 hours starting at midnight on Sunday.

Italy's health minister Roberto Speranza said an order was signed on Sunday blocking flights from Britain and preventing anyone who had been to the UK in the last 14 days from entering Italy. The order bans plane travel until January 6.

Austria and Italy have not specified when their plans to halt flights from the UK would take place.

Germany said it was banning flights from the UK starting at midnight, Berlin time, on Sunday, with the German dpa news agency reporting it would remain in place until at least December 31.

France has banned all travel from the UK for 48 hours from midnight on Sunday.

– What is the situation with Ireland?

The Irish Government said on Sunday that it was imposing a 48-hour ban on flights from Britain to Ireland.

Coronavirus - Sun Dec 20, 2020
Coronavirus - Sun Dec 20, 2020

The restrictions come into force at midnight on Sunday.

– Is anyone exempt from the bans?

Ireland's transport minister Eamon Ryan said ferries will continue to operate for freight between Britain and Ireland.

"We need haulage coming in to keep our shelves full but other passengers will be restricted," he said.

The German government said exemptions from its flight ban include repatriation flights of planes and their crews, postal, freight or empty flights and aircraft carrying medical personnel.

– Why is this all happening?

A mutant strain of coronavirus sweeping across London and the South East of England has prompted the EU nations to start restricting inbound flights from the UK.

Mr De Croo said Belgium's flight ban was "out of precaution", adding: "There are a great many questions about this new mutation and if it is not already on the mainland."

The German embassy in London tweeted that flight restrictions were the result of "the coronavirus mutation".

On Saturday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there was "no evidence" the new variant "causes more severe illness or higher mortality" but "it does appear to be passed on significantly more easily".

He said the new strain could be up to 70% more transmissible than the old virus variant.

– Are international train links running?

Eurostar has cancelled its trains between London, Brussels in Belgium and Amsterdam in the Netherlands, starting from Monday.

Coronavirus - Sun Dec 20, 2020
Coronavirus - Sun Dec 20, 2020

– Am I allowed to travel abroad from England?

If you are living in one of the newly created Tier 4 areas, which encompasses London and parts of the south east and east of England, you must not travel abroad.

Government guidance states people can only travel internationally if you are "legally permitted to do so, for example, because it is for work".

Across England people are advised to stay local and avoid travelling outside their area.

For those living in Tier 1, 2, and 3 areas, the guidance advises potential international travellers to "carefully consider whether they must travel abroad".

It advises them to "follow the rules in their area" and consider the public health advice in the country they plan to visit.

Someone living outside Tier 4 can transit into or through a Tier 4 area to travel abroad if they need to.

People are also warned to check travel advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and what rules are in place at their destination. For many countries the FCDO is advising against "all but essential travel".

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