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UK economy in crisis as countries ban flights and freight from UK

Lucy Harley-McKeown
·7-min read

Watch: UK to Europe flight bans - what do we know so far?

Countries around the world have begun closing their borders to the UK, after a new, rapidly transmittable strain of COVID-19 was detected on UK shores, which could be 70% more infectious.

The tide began on Sunday morning when the Netherlands said it would stop outgoing flights from the UK. Several nations quickly followed suit.

Now, more than 40 countries have imposed travel bans on the UK, some for at least 48 hours while leaders come up with a plan for stemming the spread, some until the end of January.

So far, the new strain has also been detected in the Netherlands, Denmark, Australia and South Africa.

A passenger plane comes in to land at London Heathrow airport, which posts its first-half results following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in London, Britain, July 29, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A passenger plane comes in to land at London Heathrow airport, which posts its first-half results following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in London, Britain, July 29, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

There have been questions around how COVID-19 vaccinations will be delivered, as they are manufactured and shipped from Belgium.

The news comes following prime minister Boris Johnson and the Welsh and Scottish devolved governments putting 18 million people across the UK under severe lockdown restrictions until end of 2020.

The EU council has met to discuss a bloc-wide response to the new COVID-19 variant.

Germany’s foreign minister has called for an EU-wide flight ban on the UK, according to ITV News’ political correspondent.

Paul Brand tweeted that he says "it's important that a halt to entries or a flight ban can't be circumvented via other European Union member countries."

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.

Here is the rundown of what countries have decided so far:

EU countries:

The BBC reported that EU officials are discussing a joint response to the new COVID-19 variant, but a unilateral decision is not expected until Tuesday on whether to halt travel.

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 Netherlands

Passengers from the UK will be banned from entry until 1 January.

Belgium

Belgium banned flights from the UK for 24 hours — starting on Sunday. Leaders are waiting for more clarity until they take further action.

Italy

Passengers 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

Austria banned flights from the UK, but hasn’t specified for how long.

Germany

Flights to Germany from Britain are banned for an unspecified duration.

Spain

Spain said it will stop flights arriving from the UK if there is no joint EU response on the matter.

Portugal

Only Portugese 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.

Bulgaria

Flights are suspended from the UK until the end of January.

France

France announced on Sunday night that entry will be barred for 48 hours from those arriving by both air, road, sea or rail.

Ireland

The island of Ireland banned flights and ferries from the UK for the next 48 hours.

Czechia

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

Denmark, which has already detected cases of the new strain, suspended flights from the UK for 48 hours, as of Monday morning.

Greece

Earlier, Greece said it would extend its quarantine period for travellers from the UK from three days to seven.

Sweden

Sweden confirmed it will impose an entry ban this afternoon. It will also stop travellers from Denmark entering the country.

“To minimize 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

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.

Rest of the world:

Norway

Norway’s health minister said in a statement on Monday that all flights from Britain will be suspended with immediate effect.

Turkey

Flights to Turkey will be suspended from the UK, Denmark and the Netherlands.

Canada

Flights from the UK are banned by Canada for the next 72 hours.

Saudi Arabia

All international travel has been suspended from the country for a week.

Israel

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

El Salvador has banned people who have been in the UK in the last 30 days, including in transit.

India

India said it would suspend flights until the end of the year. The measures will come into effect at 6.29 GMT on Tuesday.

Oman

As of Tuesday 1am GMT Oman will shut its land, air and sea borders to UK travellers, according to reports by Reuters.

Hong Kong

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

Russia will suspend all incoming flights from the UK for a week.

Jordan

Reuters reported that Jordan will suspend flights to and from the UK as of today until 3 January.

Kuwait

Kuwait’s government said its borders would close to the UK until 1 January.

Peru

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.

Switzerland

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.

Sudan

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

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.

Other nations

Morocco, Chile, Finland, Argentina and Colombia have also moved to ban travellers from the UK, alongside Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

READ MORE: UK stocks tumble as mutant COVID strain prompts Europe to shuts borders

Watch: EU and UK to hold emergency meetings to respond to border closures