Travel News

European neighbours shut doors to Britain amid alarm over new coronavirus strain - REUTERS

DECEMBER 21, 2020

By Angus MacSwan

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s European neighbours began closing their doors to travellers from the United Kingdom on Sunday amid alarm about a rapidly spreading strain of coronavirus that has caused cases to soar there.

France said it would bar all people coming from the United Kingdom for 48 hours from Sunday night, including freight carriers, whether by road, air, sea or rail.

Germany, Italy and the Netherlands ordered a suspension of flights from Britain, while Ireland said it would impose restrictions on flights and ferries from its neighbour.

Belgium said it would close its borders to flights and trains - including the popular Eurostar service - coming from the United Kingdom.

“The COVID variant recently discovered in London is worrying and will need to be investigated by our scientists,” Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza said.

“In the meantime we choose the path of maximum prudence.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Saturday that the new strain had led to spiralling infection numbers. His government tightened its COVID-19 restrictions for London and nearby areas, and also reversed plans to ease restrictions over the Christmas period.

The travel curbs also compound problems for the United Kingdom as it finally exits the European Union on Dec. 31 after a transition period this year. London and Brussels have so far failed to reach a post-Brext trade deal, raising the prospect of chaos in goods traffic.

The German government said all flights from the United Kingdom would be suspended from midnight.

“It (the virus mutation) has not yet been identified in Germany,” Health Minister Jens Spahn told public broadcaster ARD. “But of course we take the reports from Britain very seriously.”

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo said the ban on incoming travel from Britain covers Eurostar services via the Channel Tunnel and will take effect for at least 24 hours from midnight on Sunday, broadcaster VRT said.

The Italian order blocked any flights departing from Britain and prohibited anyone who had transited through it in the last 14 days from entering Italy.

The Netherlands banned flights carrying passengers from the United Kingdom from Sunday and the restrictions will remain in place until Jan. 1, the Dutch government said.

Austria is also planning to ban flights from Britain, the APA news agency said, citing the health ministry. Sweden said it was preparing a decision to ban entry from the United Kingdom.

Romania, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic also announced plans to bar flights from the United Kingdom.

At London’s St. Pancras International station, the terminal for Eurostar, thousands of travellers tried to secure places on trains.

“We got the last two tickets for today,” said a Frenchman named Leny. “We each respectively had tickets for Monday and Tuesday. But given the situation and what is happening we didn’t want to take any risk. And we were the last to be able to do so.”

The new variant in Britain has added a twist to a battle against the virus that many countries in Europe are waging.

The number of coronavirus cases in Britain surged by 35,928 on Sunday, the highest daily rise since the start of the pandemic, and it recorded 326 deaths, taking the official toll to more than 67,000.

In addition to the measures announced for England, the United Kingdom’s other nations, who control their own anti-coronavirus policies, tightened restrictions. Scotland has imposed a ban on travel to the rest of the United Kingdom.

Reporting by Reuters bureaus; Writing by Angus MacSwan; Editing by Frances Kerry

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

COVID-19: Denmark joins growing list of countries to ban travel from UK over mutated strain fears - SKYNEWS

DECEMBER 21, 2020

Countries around the world have imposed restrictions on travel from the UK due to fears of a new strain of the coronavirus.

Denmark is the latest country to announce new measures, stopping travel from Britain for two days from 9am this morning.

It comes as PM Boris Johnson has called a Cobra meeting of senior ministers and officials amid fears in Whitehall that some imported foodstuffs could run out in as little as two weeks.

In the last 24 hours:

  • The Netherlands has banned flights with passengers from the UK until 1 January
  • Belgium has banned flights and rail travel from the UK for 24 hours with more clarity expected on Tuesday
  • Italy has banned air passengers from Britain until 6 January and also anyone who has transited through the UK in the previous 14 days. Residents of Italy will still be able to depart Britain to return home.
  • Austria has banned flights from the UK but the duration of the measure is not clear
  • Germany is banning flights from the UK for an unspecified duration
  • Spain will cut flights if there is no joint EU response to the threat posed by the new virus strain
  • Portugal says only Portuguese people and residents of the country can arrive from the UK. Everyone must show proof of a negative COVID test, which can be accessed at airports
  • Bulgaria is suspending flights from the UK until 31 January
  • France will bar entry for 48 hours (from Sunday night) to those coming from the UK (and accompanied freight) by road, air, sea or rail
  • Sweden is preparing to ban entry from the UK but the details are not yet clear
  • Turkey is suspending flights from the UK, Denmark and the Netherlands, with the last two countries among those where the new strain has also been found
  • Canada is banning flights from the UK for 72 hours
  • Saudi Arabia has suspended all international flights for travellers for a week
  • Israel has banned entry to all non-Israelis flying from the UK, including those who transited through the UK. Israelis arriving from the UK will have to be isolated in a designated hotel for two weeks
  • El Salvador has banned travellers who have been in the UK within the previous 30 days, including transit
  • Ireland has banned flights and ferries from the UK for 48 hours
  • The Czech Republic says arrivals who have spent at least 24 hours in UK territory will need to isolate
  • Colombia, Morocco, Chile, Finland, and Argentina have also banned travellers from the UK

Ireland to restrict travel from Britain over new coronavirus strain - REUTERS

DECEMBER 21, 2020

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland will impose restrictions on flights and ferries from Britain from midnight in response to a new strain of the coronavirus detected there, Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said on Sunday.

“General travel between here and Britain is going to be restricted, and we will review it on Tuesday morning,” the minister told Virgin Media News. There is an exception for goods traffic and essential supply chain workers.

Reporting by Graham Fahy; Editing by Angus MacSwan

Airlines on track to get $15 billion in federal aid, must call back more than 30,000 furloughed workers - CNBC

DECEMBER 21, 2020


  • Airlines could get $15 billion in additional payroll support under the bipartisan $900 billion coronavirus aid package.
  • U.S. passenger carriers continue to struggle under coronavirus with travel demand at about a third of last year’s levels.
  • Airlines received $25 billion in payroll support under the $2.2 trillion CARES Act in March.

A person walks at Reagan National Airport ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday in Arlington, November 25, 2020. A person walks at Reagan National Airport ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday in Arlington, November 25, 2020. Hannah McKay | Reuters

U.S. airlines could receive $15 billion in additional federal aid to pay their workers under the latest bipartisan coronavirus relief package, which could be finalized as early as Sunday, according to people familiar with the matter.

Under the new round of aid, carriers would have to call back more than 32,000 workers who were furloughed this fall.

The CARES Act in March had allotted $25 billion for airlines on the condition that they maintained minimum service levels and kept workers on payroll through Sept. 30. Labor unions and airlines urged lawmakers to approve additional aid as furloughs loomed but Congress and the White House remained at odds over an deal for a national coronavirus aid package.

After the conditions of the original aid expired, United Airlines and American Airlines in October started furloughing about 32,000 employees, while those carriers and other airlines have shed tens of thousands of other jobs after urging workers to take buyouts and early retirement. Southwest Airlines, which has never furloughed workers in its nearly 50 years of flying, warned workers earlier this month that it could cut about 7,000 employees unless it can reach cost-cutting deals with labor unions.

The additional support for the struggling sector, reported earlier by Reuters, would keep airline workers on payroll until the end of March, if approved.

The first round of aid expired without a meaningful rebound in air travel, even ahead of major holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Carriers have warned that bookings have declined as coronavirus inspections spiked and new travel restrictions were introduced, hurting their ability to rein in cash burn.

The Transportation Security Administration on Sunday said it screened 1.07 million people at U.S. airports, up 25% from week earlier but less than half of the nearly 2.5 million people it screened a year ago.

Tier 4 international travel: Can you still travel abroad? - THE INDEPENDENT UK

DECEMBER 21, 2020

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced tonight that sweeping new travel restrictions will come in from the morning of 20 December.

The restrictions, in response to a new, more contagious mutation of coronavirus, will apply to the areas of London, south east and east of England that are currently in tier 3.

The areas will be designated as tier 4 from Sunday, with residents expected to stay at home except for limited exemptions set out by law, for example going to work if it is not possible to work from home.

The Prime Minister said that the restrictions will be similar to those introduced during the second lockdown, which ended on 2 December.

Here’s what you need to know about how it affects travel.

Which areas are affected by tier 4 restrictions?

The new restrictions will affect boroughs in London, the south east and east of England that are already in tier 3.

It will include:

  • Kent

  • Buckinghamshire

  • Berkshire

  • Surrey (excluding Waverley)

  • The boroughs of Gosport, Havant, Portsmouth, Rother and Hastings

  • All 32 London boroughs and the city of London.

  • Bedford, Central Bedfordshire, Milton Keynes, Luton, Peterborough

  • Hertfordshire

  • Essex (excluding Colchester, Uttlesford and Tendring)

Can you travel in or out of a tier 4 area?

People should not enter or leave a tier 4 area, Mr Johnson said.

And those who live in tier 4 will not be permitted to stay overnight in other areas under the new restrictions.

Can I still travel abroad in tier 4?

Leisure travel abroad is banned for anyone living in tier 4.

However, travel for other permitted reasons, such as for work, is still allowed.

How long will tier 4 restrictions last?

Tier 4 restrictions are expected to be reviewed on 30 December. However, Mr Johnson said that the restrictions will only change when the science indicates that it’s safe to do so.

Can those in other tiers still travel abroad?

The government has set out additional guidance for other tiers as well, advising everyone to stay local where possible.

While international travel is not banned for those in other tiers as it has been in tier 4, people are expected to consider whether their travel is essential right now.

What about Christmas bubbles?

People in tier 4 will not be allowed to mix for Christmas. However, an exception is made for support bubbles for those who are at particular risk of loneliness.

For those living in other tiers, the Christmas bubble will only apply on Christmas Day, not the five days as previously announced.

Hong Kong to ban flights from UK from Dec 22 - REUTERS

DECEMBER 21, 2020

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hong Kong will ban all flights arriving from the United Kingdom from midnight local time on Monday, becoming the first city in Asia to announce such a halt after a new super-virulent strain of the novel coronavirus was identified in Britain.

With authorities in the densely packed financial hub seeking to curb already-rising case numbers, Health Secretary Sophia Chan said on Monday there was a need to launch more vigorous and targeted measures to prevent further spreading of COVID-19 in Hong Kong.

Asian nations including Japan and South Korea said they were closely monitoring the new strain, but did not immediately cancel UK flights.

The new strain could be up to 70% more infectious, the United Kingdom has said, prompting its European neighbours and several other countries including Canada and Iran to close their doors to travellers from the country.

“We are now at a very critical stage,” Chan said at a news briefing. “During the fourth wave, we have seen that the virus is highly transmissible and patients’ conditions are more severe than previously.”

People arriving into Hong Kong from the United Kingdom prior to Dec. 22 must quarantine for a total of 21 days, versus the previously mandated 14 days of quarantine. Chan said the government was monitoring whether to extend the quarantine duration for all arrivals.

Hong Kong saw a spike in the number of cases at the end of November which prompted authorities to once again shut down dining in restaurants after 6pm and close gyms and beauty salons. The measures will be in place until at least Jan. 6, Chan said.

Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell

Many Travellers Stranded As Ijaw Youths Barricade East-West Road, Demand Substantive Board For NDDC - NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

DECEMBER 21, 2020

By Ebiowei Lawal-Yenagoa 

Angry Ijaw youths on Monday blocked the East-West road in protest over the appointment of a Sole Administrator instead of a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

The protesters, under the aegis of Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) worldwide, gathered at the Mbiama-Yenagoa junction of the federal highway as early as 6.30 a.m. using trailer, trucks and other objects to barricade the road.

Attempts by some armed soldiers and former Secretary to Bayelsa State Government and ex Nigerian Ambassador, Dr Godknows Igali, who was also caught up in the gridlock to convince the protesters to clear the blockade failed.

 The travellers were caught in the gridlock on the usually busy road spanning more than two kilometres on the Bayelsa and Rivers State stretch of the road.

The protesters, armed with placards with various inscriptions said the appointment of sole administration will fuel crisis in the region.

The protesters, who were led by the National spokesman, Ebilade Ekerefe; National Treasurer, Ebifoubo Timilaemi, Zonal Chairman, Central Zone, Ebi James, among others, accused the Minister of Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio, of allegedly pocketing the region and playing politics with NDDC thereby undermining the region’s development for selfish gains.


Illeila Border Remains Shut As Customs, Immigration Differ On Reopening Date - NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

DECEMBER 21, 2020

By Olakunke Maruf - Sokoto 

Five days after the federal government announced the immediate reopening of four land borders across the country, authorities of the Illeila border have failed to comply with such order as they continue to differ on when the border will be reopened.

The two major agents of government whose duties include the monitoring of the border, Customs and Immigration can not exactly say when exactly the border will be reopened for use.

Our correspondent who again went at the border post which is about 100km from the state capital confirmed that human and vehicular activities are yet resume fully at the border.

The Sunday visit of Nigerian Tribune was a follow up to the earlier visit of last Thursday. The visit was to confirm the level of activities both at the border and the International Cattle Market in Illeila.

A senior Custom personnel who spoke with our correspondent on the condition of anonymity said the command is yet to receive a signal on when the border post should reopen.

He reaffirmed that officers of Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Illeila Border Command are ready to comply with the directive of its parent command in Sokoto on when the border should be reopened.

He said any further arrangements or time of the border reopening should be directed to the state command for proper confirmation.

Efforts to contact the Public Relations Officer of Customs, Sokoto State Command, Mr Balarabe, indicated that his phone was not available as at the time of filing this report.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), Illeila border command confirmed its readiness to resume work.

One of its staff who spoke with Nigerian Tribune on Sunday confirmed that a circular has been sent to them from their state headquarters in Sokoto to reopen the border.

He said the officers and men of Nigerian Immigration have resumed their duties in compliance with the circular.

The officer who does not want his name in print as he is not authorized to speak with the press confirmed that the command has started attending to travellers with valid documents.

“Our men have started attending to people with genuine documents to move in and out of the country in accordance with the directive.

“If you can observe by yourself, you will see our men attending to people with genuine documents to come in and out of the country.

“The only issue we have now is we cannot attend to people with luggage or goods as that is not part of our responsibility.

“The reason why this place looks quiet is because as a result of no vehicular movement which is not part of our duty but that of customs,” he added

In a related development, traders in the town have commended the federal government for listening to the cries of ordinary citizens of the country by reopening the border.

Speaking with Nigerian Tribune, Mallam Zubairu, the chairman of cattle sellers at the Illeila International Market commended the decision of the federal executive council.

He said the reopening of the border will no doubt contribute to the economic advancement of not only the residents of the state but also that of the country at large.

While assuring the federal and the state government that his men will continue to cooperate with relevant security agencies in the area to avoid the breach of security.

The chairman called on Sokoto State government to come to the aid of the traders by fencing the environment where the market is located.

He assured that if well fenced, the security situation in the area will improve and more revenue will be generated by the state government.


Tense atmosphere for UK passengers held at German airports - AFP

DECEMBER 21, 2020

German national Sabrina Dinkler-Stemme said she was treated like a “criminal” as she stepped off a flight from Britain and found herself blocked at Hanover airport.

“I was completely encircled by the police. I was outside in the rain. We could not move because we were blocked with another 70 passengers,” she recounted of her ordeal on Sunday evening.

Dinkler-Stemme had been on one of the last flights from Britain to arrive in Germany before a temporary ban kicked in from midnight stopping arrivals from the United Kingdom after a new strain of coronavirus was detected there.


“There was no information given to us except a police officer who told me: ‘it’s your fault, you knew and you still took the flight’,” said Dinkler-Stemme.

British travellers still flying into Germany on Sunday were prevented from leaving the airport, with health officials and nurses — some dressed in hazmat suits — administering immediate Covid-19 tests.

The measures hit those arriving in Hanover from Britain, who were kept overnight in the airport and were not allowed to leave until they received a negative test result on Monday morning.

The terminal’s officials set up camp beds to help passengers spend the night.

Among the stranded travellers, the atmosphere was tense.

“We are at Hanover airport and we are held against our will, we were tested and were prohibited from leaving the premises while awaiting the results,” said Manuela Thomys, in a video shared online by German daily Bild.


Groups of people including a nine-month-old baby can be seen in the clip. “Please help us leave!” Thomys says.

“We’re all exhausted, many people are crying. Everyone’s talking to their family members. It’s really an uncomfortable situation when all we want to do it to go home,” said another passenger who only gave her name as Sophie.

157 blocked in Frankfurt Local authorities have apologised for the inconvenience caused ahead of Christmas.

“Our aim is to prevent the new variant of the virus from entering the region,” Hanover health official Andreas Kranz explained to German news wire DPA.

The passengers were finally allowed to leave on Monday morning as results came in, with one person testing positive, the city of Hanover said in a statement.

Further tests will be carried out to see if the positive test is of the new mutant strain.

The affected passenger and others who were accompaning the individual were taken to their residence where they are to be quarantined, the city added.

Similar scenes were unfolding in other German airports, including Frankfurt where 157 people arriving from Britain and South Africa — where the mutant strain of the virus has also been detected — are blocked.


“We took care of them by distributing camp beds, drinks and food,” sai Christian Engel, a spokesman at the airport.

Around half of the group have been tested and are awaiting their results while tests are ongoing for the remaining passengers, said police.

Germany reported a record in daily new infections on Thursday, surpassing the 30,000 mark for the first time, and has recorded a total of 24,125 deaths.

Scientists first discovered the new strain of the virus — which they believe is 70 percent more transmissible — in a patient in September.

But alarm bells were set ringing across Europe last week as the strain appeared to be raging in parts of Britain.

Europe last week became the first region in the world to pass 500,000 deaths from Covid-19 since the pandemic began a year ago.

A spokeswoman for the World Health Organization told AFP that “across Europe, where transmission is intense and widespread, countries need to redouble their control and prevention approaches.”

Which countries have banned UK flights amid concerns over the new Covid-19 variant? - YAHOO

DECEMBER 21, 2020

BY  April Roach

Several European countries have imposed bans on flights from the UK in a bid to prevent a mutant strain of Covid-19 from reaching their shores.

The UK has alerted the World Health Organisation (WHO) about the new variant of coronavirus.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the fast-moving new variant of the virus that is 70 per cent more transmissible than existing strains appears to be driving the rapid spread of new infections in London and southern England.

“There’s no evidence to suggest it is more lethal or causes more severe illness,” Mr Johnson stressed, or that vaccines will be less effective against it.

Here we take a look at which European nations have introduced travel curbs against UK flights.

Which countries have announced travel bans?

France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Belgium, Austria, Bulgaria, the Netherlands, Finalnd, Denmark, Kuwait, Turkey, Morocco, El Salvador, Romania, Iran, Israel, El Salvador, Colombia and Saudi Arabia have all said they will halt flights arriving from the UK.

The Czech Republic has imposed stricter quarantine measures for people arriving from Britain.

The Netherlands is banning flights from the UK for at least the rest of the year while Italy’s foreign minister Luigi Di Maio also announced curbs were being imposed.

The Dutch ban came into effect on Sunday morning and the government said it was reacting to tougher measures imposed in London and surrounding areas on Saturday by Mr Johnson.

Belgium’s prime minister Alexander de Croo issued a ban for at least 24 hours while the situation was assessed, and the German government said on Sunday it was planning to restrict travel to and from Britain.

Mr De Croo said he was issuing the order for 24 hours starting at midnight “out of precaution”.

“There are a great many questions about this new mutation and if it is not already on the mainland,” he said.

The German government said all UK flights, with the exception of cargo flights, would no longer be allowed to land in the country due to the “coronavirus mutation”.It added that the ban will be reviewed by December 31.

France said it was banning all travel from the UK for 48 hours in a move that the prime minister’s office said would come into effect from midnight.

In a statement, it said that the short 48-hour period would buy authorities time to find a “common doctrine” on how to deal with the threat. It specified that “flows of people or transport to the UK are not affected”.

Ireland’s transport minister confirmed his country would be imposing a 48-hour ban on travel from Britain to Ireland.

Eamon Ryan said that ferries will continue to operate for freight.

He said: “We need haulage coming in to keep our shelves full but other passengers will be restricted."

Austria and the Czech Republic were also imposing new measures against UK flights with Prague announcing stricter quarantine rules with all people arriving in the country having spent at least 24 hours in UK territory required to self-isolate.

What discussions are taking place between governments?

An EU crisis meeting has been called for Monday to discuss the coordination of the response to coronavirus among the 27 member states.

The UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) regards other countries’ travel restrictions as a matter for their own governments.

It was previously understood to be in touch with international partners and monitoring the situation closely.

But late on Sunday night No 10 revealed that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to chair a meeting of the UK Government’s Cobra civil contingencies committee on Monday.

Are international train and ferry links running?

Eurostar said it was unable to run trains from London to Paris, Brussels, Lille or Amsterdam on Monday or Tuesday.

Trains to London from Paris will continue to operate, with the rail company saying it planned to resume services to and from the UK on Wednesday.

Eurotunnel said that its last shuttle service departing for France would leave at 9.34pm, with access to its UK site prohibited from 10pm.

Dover’s ferry terminal has also closed to “all accompanied traffic leaving the UK” after France moved to shut its border.

Which other countries have reported cases of the new Covid-19 variant?

The World Health Organisation’s emergency officer for Europe, Catherine Smallwood, said Denmark, Australia and the Netherlands had reported instances of the same variant that is spreading in the UK.

<p>Police officers walk among commuters at Waterloo train station </p>Getty Images

Police officers walk among commuters at Waterloo train station

Getty Images

She added that several other countries confirmed variants that “carry some of the genetic changes seen in the UK”.

Will the tier system stop the spread of the new variant?

“If you have a low amount of this variant, the rate of increase is held by the tiers, but if you have a very high rate of this variant, then it is not held sufficiently by the tiers and it is going up rapidly,” Professor Chris Whitty, told the press conference on Saturday adding that people should not travel and risk spreading the variant around the country.

He said there was a risk of the variant “going out to other areas of the country where it currently is not a problem”.

But he said measures such as social distancing and limiting contact were the ones to use.

Is it the first novel strain detected in the UK?

A number of variants have been detected using sequencing studies in the UK.

A specific variant (the D614G variant) has previously been detected in western Europe and North America, which is believed to spread more easily but not cause greater illness.

But it is thought this is the first strain that will be investigated in such detail by PHE.

What examples are there of other virus strains?

The Danish government culled millions of mink after it emerged that hundreds of Covid-19 cases in the country were associated with SARS-CoV-2 variants associated with farmed mink – including 12 cases with a unique variant, reported on November 5.

In October a study suggested that a coronavirus variant that originated in Spanish farmworkers spread rapidly throughout Europe and accounted for most UK cases.

The variant, called 20A.EU1, is known to have spread from farmworkers to local populations in Spain in June and July, with people then returning from holiday in Spain most likely playing a key role in spreading the strain across Europe.

Additional reporting by PA Media.


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