On Sunday morning, Dutch authorities announced they would ban all flights from the United Kingdom after they discovered the first case of the new, more infectious coronavirus strain believed to have come from England, reported Al Jazeera.
“An infectious mutation of the COVID-19 virus is circulating in the United Kingdom. It is said to spread more easily and faster and is more difficult to detect,” the Dutch health ministry stated in a statement.
The Dutch public health body RIVM added that it “recommends any introduction of this virus strain from the UK be limited as much as possible by limiting and/or controlling passenger movements.”
The ban is set to remain in place till January 1 while authorities examine how the infection happened and whether there are additional cases.
The ban on flights from the UK was ordered by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s cabinet as a “precautionary” measure and bans on other modes of transport are currently being considered.
“Over the next few days, together with other EU member states, the government will explore the scope for further limiting the risk of the new strain of the virus being brought over from the UK,” the ministry explained.
In further news, AFP reported that Belgium was suspending flight and train arrivals from Britain from midnight (2300 GMT) Sunday and that Germany was also considering a ban on both UK and South Africa flights.
On Saturday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed that the newly discovered strain of COVID-19 is up to 70% more infectious, according to DW. Luckily, however, vaccines should still be effective against it and it is not believed to be more deadly than the original.
Still, Johnson announced that Christmas would be a lot more limited in the country than originally planned. "It is with a very heavy heart that I must tell you we cannot continue with Christmas as planned," the prime minister said during a press conference.
Johnson further revealed London and southeast England would now be placed in a new Tier 4 level lockdown with much more severe restrictions than previously.