A number of European nations have suspended flights to and from the United Kingdom on account of a new, highly-infectious variant of COVID-19 running rampant within the nation. Policymakers have labeled the variant as being ‘out of control’. The nations temporally banning flights and travel to the UK are Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Ireland, though some countries like Bulgaria have instituted longer bans lasting until the end of January.
The Dutch government explained their decision to suspend flights to the UK in an official statement, saying, “the risk of the new virus strain being introduced to the Netherlands should be minimized as much as possible.”
Ireland has offered a similar justification to their temporary suspension of travel to Britain, mandating that, “in the interests of public health, people in Britain, regardless of nationality, should not travel to Ireland, by air or sea.”
Following a single case of the new strain of COVID in Italy, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio promised to “sign the measure to suspend flights to Great Britain” in a bid to “protect Italy and Italians.” The Italian patient with the new variant of the coronavirus is currently in isolation in Rome, and is not believed to have infected any others in Italy.
The new variant of the novel coronavirus, which is up to 70% more infectious than the standard strain of COVID-19, has spread rapidly throughout London and other parts of England. There is thus far no evidence that the new variant is deadlier than the regular one, nor is there any evidence that it would need a different vaccine to be immunized against.
In response to these troubling and unexpected new developments, United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson has implemented new, harsher restrictions on movement and gathering in affected areas. These new restrictions also involve a rollback of the Prime Minister’s earlier intention to lessen restrictions ahead of Christmas and the New Year to allow for easier gatherings of family and friends.