Netherlands bans flights from China, Italy, South Korea; Turkey bans NL flights
The Netherlands will begin banning the arrival of flights from several countries among the most affected by the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak. The decision will affect flights from China, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy and South Korea, said Infrastructure Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen on Friday after a meeting with Cabinet members.
The restriction was set to begin at 6 p.m. on Friday, less than three hours after the announcement was made. All countries involved were notified beforehand, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Infrastructure told NL Times. The rules will remain in place through March 26, but it could be adjusted on any given day with countries being added or removed from the list as necessary.
"Flights that took off before that time may still land in the Netherlands," the Minister of Infrastructure said. "But after 6:00 pm no more aircraft are allowed to take off from those countries" if the Netherlands is their destination, she added. The decision is to prevent new people from entering the country who are carrying the virus, the Infrastructure Minister said.
There was no plan in place to repatriate Dutch citizens who wish to return to the Netherlands, but the Cabinet is examining its options. A spokesperson for the ministry also said assistance would likely be extended to foreign legal residents, and not only Dutch citizens. Those in Italy were advised to look for ground transportation back to the country.
"The effects are significant. It is a big blow to Schiphol," Prime Minister Mark Rutte said after the weekly meeting of ministers. Before the new restrictions were made public, the airport had estimated a 30 percent drop in passenger totals for March because of an entry ban imposed by the United States and the cancellation of flights to China.
The entry ban only affects passenger flights and not cargo flights. Rutte stated that the government is considering granting a deferment to airlines for tax payments due to the Netherlands if they are having financial difficulties due to the entry ban.
Turkey flight ban
Moments after the press conference ended, Turkey also announced it would no longer allow flights from the Netherlands to land in there. The restrictions will remain in place until April 17, and also includes flights from eight other countries in Europe.
Turkey now has a flight entry ban in place for 13 countries. As of Friday it had five confirmed cases of coronavirus which were publicly reported. The country's health minister said the four new cases announced Friday were linked to the first patient.
In the Netherlands, 804 people tested positive for coronavirus in the two week period from February 27 to March 12. Of those patients, ten older people suffering from additional health complaints have died.