The Netherlands banned on Sunday all passenger flights from the UK as a new, more infectious strain of coronavirus was spreading rapidly in southeast England.
The ban, from 6amCET on Sunday until January 1, came hours after Britain issued stricter restrictions for part of the country to slow the new variant.
“An infectious mutation of the COVID-19 virus is circulating in the United Kingdom. It is said to spread more easily and faster and is more difficult to detect,” the Dutch health ministry said in a statement.
The Dutch public health agency therefore “recommends that any introduction of this virus strain from the United Kingdom be limited as much as possible by limiting and/or controlling passenger movements.”
In early December, sampling of a case on Dutch territory had “revealed a virus with the variant described in the United Kingdom,” the Ministry said. Experts were tracking potentially related cases.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s cabinet had now taken the “precautionary decision” to ban flights from Britain, the statement said. Other forms of transport were still under review.
“Over the next few days, together with other EU member states, (the government) will explore the scope for further limiting the risk of the new strain of the virus being brought over from the UK,” the statement said.
The government urged Dutch citizens not to travel unless strictly necessary.
The country is under a five-week lockdown until mid-January with schools and all non-essential shops closed.