11:25 GMT27 January 2021
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Countries in the European Union and beyond began suspending travel with the United Kingdom on Sunday due to risks associated with the discovery of a new coronavirus strain there.

    On Saturday, the UK government practically locked down parts of the country, including London, after admitting that more than half of all new COVID-19 cases had been caused by a mutated coronavirus strain that can transmit up to 70-percent faster. As UK citizens rushed out of the locked-down areas ahead of Christmas, many countries chose to close borders with the whole of the United Kingdom in a bid to prevent the import of the new strain.

    Italy, where the mutated strain has already been detected in a returnee from the United Kingdom, has suspended all arrivals from UK airports and banned entry of persons with travel history in the UK over the past two weeks.

    "I signed a new decree barring flights from the United Kingdom and prohibiting entry to those who visited the United Kingdom in the past 14 days. Those who have already arrived in Italy from the UK will have to get tested," Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza said in a statement, published on the ministry's website.

    Clarifying details to Italian broadcaster Rai3, the minister said the new restrictions would remain in force until January 6.

    Estonia will suspend air traffic with the United Kingdom by the year-end, as announced by Prime Minister Juri Ratas.

    "The government agreed on the need to take precautions and, along with other countries, temporarily suspend the air traffic with the UK until the new year. The decision was made to protect the health of our people. The recommendation to avoid travel abroad during the Christmas season and school break remains in effect," Ratas said, as quoted in a press release on the Estonian government's website.

    The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) recommended suspending passenger travel between Finland and the UK on Sunday. Later, the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom said that the country was suspending air traffic with the UK for two weeks beginning Monday.

    Latvia’s Minister for Transport Talis Linkaits announced that passenger travel to and from the UK was being suspended. According to Latvia’s Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics, similar measures were being taken by Estonia and Lithuania.

    Earlier, Lithuania called an urgent meeting of its Government Emergency Commission to decide on the response measures. "Our commission decided to suspend all passenger flights [from the UK] to Lithuania. The decision will be recommended to the government," Lithuanian Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite said after the meeting.

    Sweden is expected to announce an official ban on UK arrivals on Monday, Swedish broadcaster SVT reported, citing Home Affairs Minister Mikael Damberg.

    Ireland will close its border with the UK for all arrivals by sea, air and road for 48 hours, the Irish Times reported.

    Cyprus introduced new quarantine measures, coming into force on Monday, requiring passengers arriving from the UK to self-isolate for 14 days or 10 days if they test negative for COVID-19.

    Spain said that it was going to strengthen passenger monitoring at airports and ports in what concerns coronavirus test results. Currently, all people arriving in Spain from countries with high COVID-19 infection rates must present negative coronavirus test results, obtained no earlier than 72 hours prior to arrival.

    Bulgaria will suspend the air traffic with the UK for over a month — from the midnight of Monday until January 31 — as per the decision of the Bulgarian cabinet at an emergency meeting, the Bulgarian National Television reported.

    The Netherlands was the first country to ban flights from the UK on Sunday morning and until January 1.

    Israel banned all arrivals from the UK indefinitely, along with arrivals from Denmark and South Africa, as announced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's press service.

    El Salvador has banned entry to people with travel history in the United Kingdom, as well as South Africa, where the new strain has also been detected, over the past 30 days.

    "Effective immediately, any person who flew via the United Kingdom or South Africa or visited any these countries in the past 30 days is prohibited from entering our country," Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele said on Twitter.

    ​Germany will stop receiving flights from the UK from Monday midnight and from South Africa later in the day, as announced by Health Minister Jens Spahn. The German government is expected to announce additional details on Monday.

    France has closed the border with the UK for 48 hours for all kinds of arrivals, as announced by Prime Minister Jean Castex. Paris will use the 2-day pause to clarify the health situation in the UK and coordinate a common response strategy with EU member states, according to the official.

    Croatian authorities have also suspended air traffic with the United Kingdom, media reported on Monday. According to HINA news agency, the decision was taken on Sunday.

    Poland also followed suit and ordered to halt flights to the UK in connection with a new COVID-19 strain starting from Monday, a government spokesman announced.

    Kuwait’s General Directorate of Civil Aviation has announced the suspension of flights to the United Kingdom by adding it to a list of high-risk countries.

    "By an order [of the authorities], the United Kingdom was added to the list of high-risk countries, from which flights to the State of Kuwait are forbidden starting from 11 a.m. Kuwait time (8:00 GM) on Monday, December 21," the directorate wrote on Twitter.

    Iran has suspended air traffic for two weeks, starting Monday, a deputy road and city minister said.

    Peru will not resume flights to and from the UK, despite opening direct flights with European countries on December 15.

    "No flight has arrived from London (the United Kingdom) so far. Nor have flights been scheduled from London to Lima or from Lima to that city in the next days," the Peruvian transport and communications ministry said.

    Colombia will suspend flights with the UK from Monday.

    "Due to the appearance of the strain that accelerates COVID-19, we decided to suspend flights from and to the United Kingdom from tomorrow [Monday]," Colombian President Ivan Duque said on Twitter.

    ​According to the president, people who have arrived to Colombia from the UK during the last eight days will have to self-isolate for 14 days.

    Hong Kong will suspend flight from the United Kingdom starting from Tuesday, media reported, citing Hong Kong health authorities. According to Hong Kong Free Press, travellers from the UK will also be required to stay at home for another seven days after their mandatory two-week quarantine. Cargo flights will continue in a usual mode.

    The Czech Republic has also suspended air traffic with the United Kingdom, Czech Health Ministry reported on Monday.

    "Starting from 12:00 p.m. (11:00 GMT) the Czech Republic, along with a range of the European countries, suspends flights from the United Kingdom," the ministry said.

    According to the ministry, all people who return from the United Kingdom will have to self-isolate for 10 days and take COVID-19 tests. If tested negative five days after arrival, they will be able to conclude self-isolation.

    Chile will suspend direct flights with the United Kingdom from Tuesday. Chilean citizens and foreigners who live in Chile permanently must go into obligatory quarantine for 14 days upon the return from the UK. The new measures will take effect from December 22 at 00:00 a.m. [06:00 GMT] and will last for at least two weeks.

    India will suspend air traffic with the United Kingdom from late Tuesday, the Indian Office of the Director-General of Civil Aviation reported on Monday.

    "In view of emerging COVID-19 situation in the United Kingdom, the competent authority has temporarily suspended flight to/from United Kingdom with effect from 23:59 IST (17:59 GMT) of December 22, 2020," the office said, stressing that all passengers, who arrived in India from the United Kingdom before, would be compulsorily subjected to RT-PCR Test.

    The office added that this ban would not apply to cargo and specially approved flights.

    border, travel ban, virus, mutations, COVID-19, UK
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