48 hour restriction on flights and ferries from the UK

Travel restrictions on flights and ferries arriving from the UK will go into effect from midnight tonight.

Hence concerns about the new strain of Covid-19 emerging in southern England.

The restrictions, which will be announced later that afternoon, will initially remain in place for 48 hours before being reviewed.

Officials are still meeting to finalize the details.

A discussion by the three coalition party leaders concluded this afternoon.

Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands have already banned passenger flights from the UK.

Previously, Health Secretary Stephen Donnelly had said that everything must be done to protect the health system.

Speaking of RTÉ’s program for this week, Donnelly said that the Irish, who cannot come from the UK due to the new restrictions, are in a dire situation.

Mr Donnelly said the vast majority of Irish people abroad had chosen not to travel because of the virus, but a small number had planned to come home and he said his “heart was running out”.

He said the government is taking the situation very seriously as the new strain is up to 70% more transmissible.

Elsewhere, the Dutch government said it decided to curtail travel from the UK after finding the first case of the new, more infectious strain of coronavirus.

The 6 a.m. local time ban through January 1 came hours after Britain announced that part of England would slow down the new variant.

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The Dutch Ministry of Health said: “An infectious mutation of the Covid-19 virus is circulating in the UK.

“It’s supposed to spread easier and faster, and it’s harder to spot.”

The Dutch health authority RIVM therefore recommends “limiting as much as possible the introduction of this strain of virus from the UK by limiting and / or controlling passenger movements”.

The Ministry of Health added that “a case study in the Netherlands in early December revealed a virus containing the variant described in the UK”.

Experts looked at how the infection occurred and whether there were related cases.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s cabinet has now made the “precautionary decision” to ban flights from the UK, the statement said, adding that other modes of transport are still being examined.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte

He urged Dutch citizens not to travel unless it was strictly necessary.

“In the next few days (the government) will examine together with other EU member states to what extent the risk of the transmission of the new virus strain from Great Britain can be further limited,” the statement said.

Belgium is suspending flight and train arrivals from the UK from 11pm tonight to respond to the new strain.

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo told the Belgian TV channel VRT that the ban would last for at least 24 hours.

Eurostar trains between Belgium and Great Britain were canceled from tomorrow. There are no trains between London, Brussels and Amsterdam.

Trains will continue to operate on the Paris route.

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said it bans travel from the UK as its government has a duty to protect the Italian people.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said yesterday early data suggests the virus circulating in London and south east England is up to 70% more transmissible.

Germany is considering banning flights from the UK and South Africa to prevent the spread of two separate new strains in both countries.

A health ministry spokesman said the government in Berlin is following developments in the UK very closely and is working under “high pressure” to evaluate the new information and data on the new strain.

The World Health Organization has stated that its members in Europe should step up action against the new burden.

Outside the UK, according to the WHO, nine cases of the new strain have been reported in Denmark, as well as one case in the Netherlands and another in Australia.

“Across Europe, where transmission is intense and widespread, countries need to redouble their control and prevention approaches,” said a spokeswoman for WHO Europe.

Additional AFP reporting