Netherlands bans UK flights for 10 days over coronavirus mutation
A new mutated strain of the coronavirus discovered in the United Kingdom has also been identified in the Netherlands. To prevent further spread of the new variant, a ban has been introduced on air traffic with passengers from the UK. It went into effect on Sunday at 6 a.m. and will remain until January 1.
The ban follows a recommendation from the Dutch Public Health Agency RIVM, which states that travel from the United Kingdom should be limited to the minimum. The air traffic ban does not apply to the transport of medical personnel. Cargo transport is also still allowed.
Traveling by car, boat, and train is still possible, announced the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. However, such trips are not recommended unless the return to the Netherlands is strictly necessary. All passengers arriving from the UK must self isolate for ten days.
On Sunday morning, the Netherlands unilaterally decided on the flight ban. Other European countries have not yet taken such measures. The Dutch government writes that it is still investigating whether additional steps will be necessary. An official statement read that “in the coming days, the government will, in close cooperation with other EU member states, look into the possibilities of further restricting the import of the virus from the United Kingdom.”
Schiphol Airport said that travelers flying from the UK to the Netherlands should contact their airline. KLM stated that it does not yet know exactly what the flight ban will entail for the company. It advises passengers to keep an eye on the flight details on the KLM website.
The mutated version of the virus found in the UK appears to be transmitted much faster and is more difficult to detect than the original variant. The Dutch cabinet confirmed that, from a sampling of cases at the beginning of December, the mutated version was also detected in the Netherlands. The sample will be further investigated.
There are no signs that the new variant of the virus is deadlier. Moreover, experts believe that the vaccine will be equally effective against the new strain. The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced strict lockdown measures in London and South-East England on Saturday night, breaking previously made promises to ease measures over the Christmas period.