Countries including France, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain Italy, Belgium, the Irish Republic, Turkey and Canada have temporarily closed their borders to arrivals from the UK, in attempt to stop the spread of a new, more infectious variant of coronavirus.
The moves began with the Netherlands on Sunday morning, which placed a ban on flights carrying passengers from the United Kingdom “until January 1 at the latest”.
This was quickly followed by other countries, and European Union officials are meeting to discuss ” a co-ordinated response” to the situation.
Eurostar has tweeted that there will be no services between London, Brussels, and Amsterdam today (December 21), and trains will only operate on the London-bound leg between Paris and London on December 21 and 22.
Following the announcement by the French government that the border with the UK will close at midnight tonight, we will only be able to run trains from Paris to London for the 21st-22nd December: https://t.co/j83tSSSVIC
— Eurostar (@Eurostar) December 20, 2020
France has suspended all travel links from the UK for 48 hours, including all accompanied freight traffic, leading to the closure of the Port of Dover for all outbound movements, and the implementation of Operation Stack on the M20 towards Dover.
— KCC Press Office (@KCCpressdesk) December 21, 2020
The Irish government has also published the following statement:
“In response to the identification of a new strain of Covid-19 in the South-East of England, the government has announced a ban on all flights arriving into Ireland from Great Britain with effect from midnight tonight, Sunday, 20 December 2020.
“The Taoiseach, the Tánaiste, the Minister for Transport and the Minister for Health had detailed discussions on Sunday and announced that in the interests of public health, people in Britain, regardless of nationality, should not travel to Ireland, by air or by sea.
“Flights are being banned for at least 48 hours.”
“The ban is in place for tomorrow Monday, 21 December, and Tuesday 22 December, 2020 and will be reviewed by the government at the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, 22 December 2020.”
Meanwhile Italy has banned flights arriving from the UK until January 6, 2021, and Germany has also halted passenger flights from the UK from midnight on Sunday.
Ryanair has posted the following advice on its website:
“For any flights to/from the UK in the coming days (Dec 20th to 24th) which are banned by EU Govts regulation, all affected customers will receive an email notification and they will be offered practical alternatives including free moves (no change fee applies) or refunds if they so wish.
“In the case of all other flights to/from the UK which are permitted to fly, Ryanair will operate these flights to facilitate all passengers who need to travel for business reasons, and are booked on them or wish to move to these flights.
If any such passengers (booked on operating flights) do not wish to travel during the next 5 days prior to Christmas, then Ryanair will facilitate a free move of their booking (no change fee applies) to any date up to 15th Mar.”
Meanwhile Aer Lingus said it would not operate flights between the UK and the Republic of Ireland for 48 hours, but added that services in the opposite direction would operate “in order to facilitate of customers to the UK and those with connecting flights in the UK”.
Turkish Airlines has suspended flights to and from the UK, the Netherlands, Denmark and South Africa in response to the developments.
In line with the official authorities' decisions and the precautions we take for your health; our the UK, the Netherlands, Denmark and South Africa flights have been suspended.
We will continue to follow the new developments and inform you accordingly.
— Turkish Airlines (@TurkishAirlines) December 20, 2020
Other European countries which have already or are set to implement temporary travel bans from the UK include German, Switzerland, Austria and Bulgaria.
A tweet by Edinbugh airport last night said:
A number of countries have introduced travel restrictions on UK flights. These countries include, but not limited to:
The situation is changing at pace.
— Edinburgh Airport (@EDI_Airport) December 20, 2020
Further afield Canada has suspended passenger flights from the UK for 72 hours.
This is a rapidly changing situation, and Business Traveller will keep this page updated with the latest situation as best we can.