Starting from December 19, the UK authorities imposed a Tier 4 lockdown in London and southeast England. The reason for these new restrictions is a novel variant of Covid-19 which has been identified which has spread rapidly within the UK. The Public Health England has assessed this variant as having substantially increased transmissibility with high confidence. Further studies are underway to characterise the variant and updates will be provided.
At least 40 countries have announced new restrictions or a ban on travel from the UK. European countries have begun to impose travel bans on the UK after it’s announcement of a more-infectious and “out of control” Covid-19 variant. Germany, France, Italy, Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands are all halting flights. The measures are initially short-term and are different for each country. However, the EU Commission has urged member states to lift any travel bans to the UK to allow for essential journeys and to minimise trade disruption.
Among other European countries the reaction of the French authorities has been the most consequent. Since 21st December 2020, most types of travel from the UK to France have been totally banned. After having closed its borders for 48 hours, France, Britain’s closest neighbour reopened the border to certain groups of travellers on December 23rd – French or EU citizens, Permanent residents of France or another EU country, or those travelling for essential purposes such as hauliers and truck drivers who do not leave their trucks. However, because of the French restrictions, the ferry terminal at Dover is now closed for all accompanied traffic leaving the UK until further notice. On Friday, the French Ministry of Health reported the first case of the UK Covid variant in France.
Belgium has blocked the tunnel and airports from all passenger movements, even transit, for 24 hours from midnight Sunday as a precautionary measure. Turkey and Switzerland have temporarily banned all flights from the UK until the New Year. Switzerland imposed compulsory quarantine for travellers arriving after December 14. Ireland moved to put in place an all out ban on travel from the UK into Ireland, however this ban will be removed after December 31.
German Health Ministry has confirmed the UK variant had not yet been detected in Germany. The Ministry of Transport has announced that planes from the UK would not be allowed to land after midnight on Sunday, that means that passenger flights are canceled from the UK until at least December 31.
Italian Health Ministry has reported the first case of the UK variant detected in Italy. All the flights from and to the UK are suspended until 6 January, while blocking entry for anyone who has been in the UK in the last 14 days. Austria and Bulgaria have also issued a ban on all flights to and from the UK until 31th of January. Portugal has imposed restrictions on flights from the UK, the government announced that only Portuguese nationals will be allowed to travel, and they must have a negative Covid-19 test.
Netherlands have set the travel bans for travelers coming from the UK or South Africa which were supposed to remain in place until at least January 1. However, on December 22, the Dutch government lifted the flight ban. Starting from December 23 all passengers will have to present proof of a recent negative coronavirus PCR test before they will be allowed to travel.
In Spain the government has confirmed the detection of at least 4 cases of the UK variant. Flights from the UK have been suspended indefinitely from December 22, except for Spanish nationals and residents. Norway also discovered the UK variant in two people who had arrived there from the UK and the government has issued a ban on all incoming flights from the United Kingdom which has been extended until December 29th and may eventually be extended into January.
Following these events, the Swedish authorities also detected the new UK variant on Saturday. Sweden’s government issued a ban on travel into Sweden from both the UK and Denmark for at least one month. After discovering the first UK variant case in Denmark, the national authorities have imposed a ban on entry for passengers from the UK from December 25 to January 3. Danish citizens and residents can return home but the government strongly advises 10 days of self-isolation, with an option to test after four days.
Some countries didn’t ban the travelers arriving from the UK but imposed restrictions. Greece has imposed a seven-day quarantine for all travelers arriving from the UK starting December 22. Additionally, all passengers coming from the UK will be tested on arrival and if the result of the test on arrival is negative, you must still quarantine for 7 days.
The United States had announced on Wednesday that UK travelers arriving in the city will be required to quarantine or face a daily $1,000 fine.
Israeli authorities approved new travel restrictions on December 27 afternoon which stipulate that until further notice, foreign nationals will not be allowed to enter Israel from South Africa, Denmark and the United Kingdom. Israeli citizens returning from those three countries will now be obligated to remain in quarantine at mandatory Coronavirus hotels upon their return, unlike Israelis who return from other countries, who have the option to self-isolate at home.
Other countries in the Middle East have suspended entry from the UK. Oman has announced a ban for all entry to the country by foreigners and halted international passenger flights, starting for one week, cargo flights are excluded.
Saudi Arabia paused all international passenger flights and land and sea arrivals for a week or until clearer details emerged about the COVID variant, with cargo flights and supply chains exempt. Hong Kong suspended all flights from the UK.
In the light of the spread of the Covid-19 new UK variant, each person intending to travel from the UK must check the destination country’s travel restrictions in place. These restrictions are published and updated on the Home Office website.