Belgium, Netherlands ban UK flights due to coronavirus

Belgium will halt flights and Eurostar trains from the U.K. for a minimum 24-hour period starting midnight as a “precaution” against an infectious strain of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said Sunday.

In a bid to prevent imports of a new, highly infectious strain of the coronavirus that’s spreading in southern England, the Netherlands on Sunday morning brought in a ban on flights from the U.K. that could run until January 1.

Belgium is now following suit with a 24-hour ban on flights and trains from Britain as scientific consultations are ongoing, De Croo said.

“Of course, that could be extended should it appear that we have more conclusive data,” he said.

The government said it is also in talks with the French government to closely monitor people arriving from the U.K. by car and will ramp up checks at the border.

The ban will take effect from midnight Sunday. In the meantime, people arriving from the U.K. are required to quarantine — something they faced anyway under Belgium’s existing travel rules — and authorities will ramp up checks on compliance.

The Netherlands had already called for EU cooperation “to curb the import to the EU of the virus.”

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday announced new lockdown restrictions in London and south-east England in response to the new coronavirus strain, which is considered up to 70 percent more transmissible than original variants.

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