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Belgium, Netherlands, and Italy have banned UK flights over the concern over mutant Covid-19 strain

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Italy has joined Belgium and the Netherlands in banning flights from the UK. Germany and France are reportedly considering banning flights to and from the United Kingdom. The travel bans were announced over increasing concern over a mutant strain of Covid-19 that has caused London and other parts of Britain into a Tier-4 lockdown over Christmas.

Italy’s foreign minister Luigi Di Maio announced on Twitter: “As a government, we have a duty to protect Italians, so for this reason, after warning the British government…we are about to sign the order to suspend flights with Great Britain.”

Hours earlier, Belgium’s Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced that flights and Eurostar trains from the UK will be halted for a minimum 24-hour period starting at midnight as a “precaution” against the infectious new variant.

A high-ranking German government official told the DPA news agency that restrictions on flights from Britain are a “serious option”.

French TV station BFM said France was considering suspending flights and trains from the UK.

The Netherlands earlier had already banned passenger flights from the UK on Sunday until January 1 at least. It said it was considering additional measures regarding other modes of transport, which could mean ferry and Eurostar services are affected.

The Netherlands added that in early December, sampling of a case in the country had revealed the same mutated virus strain as the one that has been spreading rapidly across and parts of the south-east of England in recent days.

The ban came after Prime Minister Boris Johnson and scientists announced on Saturday that the new strain of coronavirus identified in the country is up to 70 per cent more infectious.

London and much of the south-east, which had been in the highest level of a three-tier system of rules, were thrown into a new Tier 4 level from Sunday morning to curb the spread of a new mutant strain of coronavirus.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson cancelled Christmas for almost 18 million people in London, south-eastern and eastern England as the region is put into a new two-week lockdown.

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