The European Union (EU) issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon advising that essential travel and transit of passengers should be facilitated to and from the UK, despite the scare about the new COVID-19 variant.
A large majority of EU nations have temporarily moved to ban travel between the UK and EU countries over the past two days.
A new, fast-spreading variant of the COVID-19 virus prompted the UK government to impose a new tier (Tier 4) on London and the south east of England this weekend. That quickly led countries around the world to move to limit the spread.
So far, the new strain has also been detected in the Netherlands, Denmark and Australia, while South Africa has a different, yet still more rapidly spreading mutation to contend with, known as 501.V2.
The EU said in a statement that “all non-essential travel to and from the UK should be discouraged,” but “flight and train bans should be discontinued given the need to ensure essential travel and avoid supply chain disruptions.”
The chaos, which echoes the global lockdown of March, sent airline stocks plummeting yesterday, as hoards of flights were called off at short notice.
Lorries carrying goods to and from France were stacked up in Kent overnight, as politicians tried to find a way to restart travel.
READ MORE: France and UK still in border talks amid food and medicine shortage fears
Prime minister Boris Johnson tried to calm the nation in a press conference on Monday by saying that delay in supplies will only affect a small minority of food and medicine coming into Britain and that the delays affected only “human-handled freight,” accounting for only around a fifth of the total headed for Europe.
He added that he is still in talks with French president Emmanuel Macron and is looking at a mass testing programme for lorry drivers to solve the crisis — which was demanded by France after the 48-hour border closure was announced on Sunday.
Trouble also seems to be spreading to manufacturing. Toyota said last night it plans to shut up its factories in the UK and France early for Christmas, according to reports from The Telegraph. This is due to a shortage of parts due to travel delays.
The list of countries limiting UK travel has now topped 50.
Here’s what we know so far about border closures. This list will be updated throughout the day.
Individual countries released guidelines over the course of Sunday and Monday on travel, with some saying they will impose stricter bans, with later end points than others. The blanket statement from the EU may override these.
Our Recommendation to ensure EU coordinated approach to 🇬🇧 travel restrictions:
➡️ Non-essential travel discouraged, but transit should be facilitated.
➡️ Flight and train bans should stop: need to avoid supply chain disruptions.
— European Commission 🇪🇺 (@EU_Commission) December 22, 2020
Here’s the list so far:
Passengers travelling from the UK will be banned from entry until 1 January.
Belgium banned flights from the UK for 24 hours — starting on Sunday. Leaders are waiting for more clarity until they take further action. There should be an update on this today.
Passengers travelling from Britain are banned until 6 January, as is anyone who transited through the UK in the past two weeks. Residents will still be able to leave the UK to return home.
Austria banned flights from the UK, but hasn’t specified for how long.
Reuters reporters have seen plans that, if implemented, would mean travellers from the UK and South Africa would be banned from entry until 6 January.
Spain said it will stop flights arriving from the UK if there is no joint EU response on the matter, but hasn’t yet ruled on what it will do.
Only Portuguese people and residents of the country are permitted to travel from the UK, and everyone must sow proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Testing is accessible at airports upon landing.
Flights are suspended from the UK until the end of January.
France announced on Sunday night that entry will be barred for 48 hours from those arriving by both air, road, sea or rail. Leaders have been trying to thrash out a deal to get lorries and freight moving again before Christmas.
The Republic of Ireland’s government agreed this morning it would ban travel from Britain until the end of the year.
The advice was originally that arrivals who have spent at least 24 hours in the UK will need to isolate in the Czech Republic. Since this afternoon, flights have been suspended.
Denmark, which has already detected cases of the new strain, suspended flights from the UK for 48 hours, as of Monday morning.
Earlier, Greece said it would extend its quarantine period for travellers from the UK from three days to seven.
Sweden confirmed it will impose an entry ban this afternoon. It will also stop travellers from Denmark entering the country.
“To minimise the risk of it spreading here, the government has today decided on a ban of entry,” the minister for the interior, Mikael Damberg, told a news conference, adding that Swedish citizens were exempt from the ban.
Luxembourg earlier said it would ban flights in from the UK. This comes in conjunction with its national lockdown from 26 December to January 10.
Estonia’s UK travel ban runs from Sunday 20 December at midnight until the end of the year.
Latvia has suspended travel to and from the UK from 21 December to 1 January, the Latvian Ministry of Transportation said on Sunday.
Fights from the UK will be suspended, Lithuania’s prime minister tweeted.
Rest of the world:
Norway’s health minister said in a statement on Monday that all flights from Britain will be suspended with immediate effect.
Flights to Turkey will be suspended from the UK, Denmark and the Netherlands.
Flights from the UK are banned by Canada for the next 72 hours.
All international travel has been suspended from the country for a week.
Israel banned entry to all non-Israelis jetting in from the UK. That includes those with layovers in the UK. People arriving from the UK will have to isolate in a hotel for two weeks.
El Salvador has banned people who have been in the UK in the last 30 days, including in transit.
India said it would suspend flights until the end of the year. The measures will come into effect at 6.29 GMT on Tuesday.
As of Tuesday 1am GMT Oman will shut its land, air and sea borders to UK travellers, according to reports by Reuters.
Hong Kong has taken perhaps the most stringent precautions of the lot, as UK travellers to Hong Kong will be banned, while travellers that recently arrived in the country will need to extend the 14-day quarantine for another seven days. Total isolation time will now add up to 21 days.
Russia will suspend all incoming flights from the UK for a week.
Reuters reported that Jordan will suspend flights to and from the UK as of today until 3 January.
Kuwait’s government said its borders would close to the UK until 1 January.
Peru said it would exact more wide-sweeping bans than just stopping travellers from the UK. It has also banned travellers from Europe. President Francisco Sagasti said that no direct flights from the UK had entered the country since December 15, when flights from Europe restarted.
Swiss officials pressed ahead with a UK travel ban too, but conceded it was likely the mutant strain was already in the country due to inbound flights from London over the past week. The country also moved to ban travel from South Africa.
Iran’s travel ban lasts for two weeks from the 20 December.
Sudan said its travel ban will run from the 23 December for three weeks. Thompson Reuters Foundation reported that the ban is subject to renewal and more countries could be added to the list as the situation develops.
Pakistan said it would ban travel from the UK between 22 and 29 December for both travel originating in the UK and travellers that had been in the UK in the last 10 days. Passengers who transit through the UK and do not leave the airport will be allowed into the country.
Argentina banned flights on Monday morning, according to a joint statement published Sunday by the Argentinian Health and Interior Ministries.
Uzbekistan has banned travel from the UK amid fears of the new COVID-19 variant. The Telegraph reported that the ban will also cover travellers from Italy, Denmark, Austria, the Netherlands, Australia and South Africa.
Travellers from the UK are also banned from Moldova.
Cuba has not (yet) closed its borders to Britons, but negative PCR tests may be required for travel to the island in the near future.
Jamaica was the first Caribbean country to cancel all flights from the UK for the next fortnight, hitting this evening. Grenada and the Dominican Republic will also close their borders.
Saint Lucia said it would not impose a ban.
Morocco, Chile, Finland and Colombia have also moved to ban travellers from the UK, alongside Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.
Travel bans are sending yet more shockwaves through the travel industry, which has already faced a torrid year.
READ MORE: UK flight ban: Airlines address cancellations, refunds, and rebooking fears
Figures from November show that the International Air Transport Association (IATA) expects a net loss of $118.5bn (£87.6bn) in 2020, a deeper recision of its $84.3bn forecast in June.
A net loss of $38.7bn is also expected in 2021, more than double the projected $15.8bn loss six months ago. These travel curbs could worsen those losses.
Watch: Britain in lockdown, travel bans after COVID-19 mutation