A growing number of countries have imposed bans on travellers arriving from the UK, in response to the more infectious strain of Covid-19 spreading across the UK.
In the last 24 hours, more than 30 countries have announced travel bans. Among those are Italy, Germany, France and the Netherlands, plus countries farther afield including Saudi Arabia, Colombia and Thailand.
Other countries have introduced tighter quarantine rules for arrivals from the UK. Anyone arriving into Greece must self-isolate for 7 days, regardless of whether they have a negative Covid-19 result.
The travel bans will affect thousands of British holidaymakers, planning to get away between now and January 1. At a conservative estimate, approximately 250,000 people will be affected, with losses amounting to more than £400 million for the travel industry, according to Paul Charles of travel consultancy The PC Agency.
Aside from the ban on passenger flights, freight transport into and out of the UK has been affected. The Road Haulage Association warned of “enormous disruption” after France closed its borders to lorries arriving from the UK.
Follow all the day’s updates, below.
Chaotic scenes at Heathrow Airport as travellers rush to beat EU travel ban
Huge queues formed at Heathrow Airport as travellers rushed to avoid travel bans on arrivals from the UK.
India becomes latest country to ban UK arrivals
India has banned UK arrivals, due to the spread of the new strain of Covid-19.
The travel ban will be effective between now and December 31.
Eden Project closes after flooding and landslides
The Eden Project has been forced to close for safety reasons after torrential rain caused a series of landslides at the site.
Nearly half a month’s worth of rain fell in a single day in and around the botanical attraction in Cornwall on Sunday.
Today is the Winter Solstice
To take a momentary break from Brexit and Covid misery, today is the winter solstice and people braved the cold to capture the sunrise in full glory this morning. Here’s a look at some of the most beautiful shots on Twitter, in the UK and beyond.
“The English Virus”
One of Italy’s leading daily newspapers is describing the new strain of Covid-19, which has now been detected in Italy, as “The English Virus”.
Canada bans UK flights for 72 hours
In North America, the Canadian Prime Minister said late last night that the country will ban all UK flights for 72 hours due to the new Sars-Cov-2 variant thought to be spreading widely in south-east England.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a tweet that those who had already arrived from Britain on Sunday would be subject to secondary screenings and other “advanced measures”.
Tier 4 rules having far-reaching consequences for UK hospitality
Robin Hutson, CEO of The Pig Hotel and Limewood Hotel, has tallied the impact that the Tier 4 restrictions has taken on his businesses.
I’ll be spending Christmas Day alone’
“Well, it’s settled. I shall spend this Christmas Day alone (but for my dog) Bridget Jones-style, wearing pajamas and a sad paper hat, quite possibly drunk, calling the people I love as the sprouts and potatoes rot in the larder,” writes Annabel Fenwick-Elliott.
“Like millions of others, I was abruptly shunted into Tier 4 at midnight last night. My mother and grandmother seriously considered packing their bags and high-tailing it from their homes in London across the motorway to Essex, where they’d planned to spend Christmas with me, before the clock struck 12.
“I live alone, in an isolated countryside abode, which is undoubtedly a far safer place to be over the next week for my 86-year-old grandmother, who otherwise resides in a busy retirement block in the capital.
“Ultimately, my mother decided against it, on the basis of Professor Chris Whitty’s suggestion last night that all those with similar mad-dash endeavours should ‘unpack their bags’.”
Norway bans flights from the UK
Flights from Britain to Norway will be suspended with immediate effect for a minimum of 48 hours due to concerns over a new strain of coronavirus, the Norwegian health minister has said.
In the last 24 hours, more than 30 countries have announced travel bans. Among those are Italy, Germany, France and the Netherlands, plus countries farther afield including Saudi Arabia, Colombia, Hong Kong and Thailand.
Spain mulls UK travel ban and insists vaccine remains effective
Spain’s health minister, Salvador Illa, has spoken about the new Sars-Cov-2 variant in a radio interview, James Badcock reports.
He said it had not yet been detected in Spain and assured the public that “the vaccine is also effective against the new strain detected in the UK”.
In terms of banning travel from the UK, he said Spain was still considering how to react, adding that Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez remains determined to promote a pan-EU response.
Entire EU could ban UK arrivals
Italy has detected a patient infected with the new strain of coronavirus that was found in Britain, the health ministry said on Sunday night.
The patient and his partner returned to Italy from the UK in the last few days on a flight that landed at Rome’s Fiumicino airport and were now in isolation, the ministry said.
It came as the European Union was scrambling to unify its response to the strain that has seen countries close borders ahead of the Christmas holidays.
The 27-member bloc will hold a crisis meeting on Monday in an effort to coordinate the travel restrictions and avoid the spread of the new strain, which may be up to 70 per cent more transmissible than its predecessor and may already be present in several countries.
How do our Christmas restrictions compare with other countries?
A look at how other countries around the world are handling Covid rules over Christmas.
Which countries have banned UK arrivals?
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development (FCDO) Twitter feed has announced that the following countries have banned UK arrivals, due to the new strain of Covid-19.
Other countries to have made announcements on banning UK arrivals include:
- Saudi Arabia
We will keep you updated as and when more countries make announcement throughout the day.
The new rules, crunched
Here, a quick look at what the major holiday destinations banning UK travel are saying:
France said on Sunday it would halt all travel from Britain for 48 hours from midnight on Sunday including journeys “related to goods transport by road, air, sea or rail”. The ban on all but unaccompanied freight comes as companies scramble to shift merchandise across the Channel with days to go until Britain finally quits EU trade structures. Prime Minister Jean Castex’s office said the 48-hour period would offer time to coordinate a joint EU response that would ultimately allow travel from the UK to resume “with compulsory testing on departure”.
Germany will halt all air links with the UK from midnight on Sunday, with the ban initially slated to last until December 31, Health Minister Jens Spahn told ARD public television. Cargo flights will be exempt. A government source said Berlin is already “working on measures” to extend the suspension into January, when the end of Britain’s post-Brexit transition period means it will no longer be covered by EU rules that enable the flight ban.
Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza said he had signed a decree “which blocks flights from Great Britain and prohibits entry into Italy of people who have stayed there during the last 14 days”. Anyone already in Italy who recently travelled from Britain must be tested for coronavirus, the statement added. The new virus strain has been found in one person in Italy who recently returned from Britain, the health ministry said.
Dublin said in a statement that all flights arriving from Britain from midnight on Sunday would be banned for at least 48 hours.
Port of Dover terminal closed
The Port of Dover terminal is closed to all accompanied traffic leaving the UK until further notice.
“Come home as early as you can,” says Travel expert
Rory Boland of Which? Travel has advised UK people abroad to come home early.
He Tweeted: “For UK folks abroad it’s worth coming home early if you can. Many airlines have flex policies, allowing date changes, although this may be expensive.
“Crucial, that if your flight is cancelled you don’t accept a refund. This ends the airlines responsibility for getting you back.”
Here’s Rory giving the lowdown on BBC Breakfast this morning.
Tier 4 till Easter?
Tier 4 restrictions could be toughened further and remain in place until close to Easter, Government sources have admitted.
Ministers believe at least 20 million people will need to have been vaccinated against coronavirus before any significant relaxing of the measures can be considered, it is understood.
Matt Hancock said on Sunday that Britain faces a “very difficult” few months, warning that the spread of the virus across swathes of England is now “out of control”.
He also refused to rule out closing schools for the first time since the original spring lockdown.
Police chiefs warned that the ban on people getting together for Christmas in Tier 4 is “unenforceable” despite stepping up patrols at rail stations and on borders to stop the spread of the new strain of the virus.
What do the new Tier 4 rules mean for overseas travel?
Those in Tier 4 areas will not be permitted to travel abroad apart from limited exceptions, such as for work purposes. The Government has not specified fines for travelling against the rules of your Tier. However, the Home Office told Telegraph Travel that fines are already in place for those who break the rules.
The updated Foreign, Commonwealth and Development (FCDO) advice states:
“Following identification of a new variant of the virus, international travel from your area may be increasingly restricted because of domestic regulations. Different rules apply in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
“For example, those in Tier 4 areas in England will not be permitted to travel abroad apart from limited exceptions, such as work purposes.”
Eurostar halts services
Eurostar has Tweeted to say it will not be operating between London and Paris, as France shuts its border to UK arrivals.
What happened over the weekend?
A quick re-cap of the weekend’s top stories.
- Tier 4 restrictions come into force for over 16 million people
- Wales enters lockdown
- Travel banned between Scotland and the rest of the UK
- US could lift UK travel ban as early as next week
- Virgin Atlantic and BA refuse won’t refund Tier 4 customers
Now, on with today’s news.