Travel chaos as trains and motorways loaded with people escaping London for Christmas
Dozens of countries have announced the suspension of flights originating from the UK amid growing global concerns over a highly infectious new strain of coronavirus.
On Monday, Spain joined much of the rest of Europe, the Middle East and parts of Latin America in banning arrivals after Boris Johnson warned at the weekend about the new Covid mutation.
The move has sparked panic over global supply chains and fresh food imports to Britain, and left passengers stranded in the lead up to Christmas.
Sweden bans travel from Britain
Sweden will stop allowing in foreign travellers from Britain for one month in a bid to curb the rapid spread of a new strain of the coronavirus, the government said on Monday.
“To minimize the risk of it spreading here, the government has today decided on a ban of entry,” Interior Minister Mikael Damberg told a news conference, adding that Swedish citizens were exempt from the ban.
The ban will take effect from midnight on Monday and is expected to be in place for one month. In addition, Sweden will stop all flights from Britain for 48 hours.
Mr Damberg further said all people who arrived from Britain since December 12 would have to get tested and all Swedes coming back would have to self-isolate for one week.
It is the first time since the coronavirus pandemic emerged that Sweden has closed its borders to any country within Europe. Sweden has shunned lockdowns throughout the pandemic, instead largely relying on voluntary measures focused on social distancing and good hygiene.
Joe Middleton21 December 2020 17:06
Can I move between Tiers 1, 2, 3 and 4?
England has now been divided into four different tiers according to the level of coronavirus in the area.
Unlike the system before the second lockdown, the new tiers system is stricter with different travel restrictions applicable for each one.
Read everything you need to know about moving between the tiers in this report by Qin Xie:
Joe Middleton21 December 2020 16:53
Sudan bans travellers from UK, Netherlands and South Africa
Sudan has followed dozens of other countries in today banning travellers from the UK after the discovery of a new variant of coronavirus.
The head of the civil aviation authority said it will kick in on December 23 and last for three weeks, with other countries possible being added to the banned list.
The northeast African country has also banned travellers from South Africa and the Netherlands.
Joe Middleton21 December 2020 16:40
Israel bans foreign nationals due to new Covid strain
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the country has further tightened restrictions on incoming air travel in response to the new strain of the coronavirus.
Netanyahu said Monday that Israel will not allow foreign nationals to enter the country, and any Israelis who return from abroad, starting Wednesday, will go into quarantine at state-designated hotels.
Currently, returning Israelis are allowed to quarantine at home. The restrictions will remain in effect for 10 days.
Israel has already barred most foreign visitors since the start of the pandemic, but made exceptions for certain groups like religious seminary students. Israeli officials say almost all loopholes will now be closed.
Joe Middleton21 December 2020 16:27
Russia bans UK flights
Our travel editor Simon Calder reports: “Russia, the world’s biggest country, has now announced the suspension of flights from the UK from 22 to 29 December 2020.
“In addition, the St Petersburg city government has asked tourists from other countries to refrain from visiting the city for the Christmas and New Year holidays.”
Joe Middleton21 December 2020 16:15
Pakistan bans UK flights
Pakistan is the latest country to ban travel from the UK over the mutant Covid strain.
A transport directive from the government said travellers arriving from the UK on direct or indirect flights would not be permitted to enter from midnight on Tuesday going into Wednesday, until midnight on 29 December.
Passengers transiting in the UK on their way to Pakistan will be allowed to enter if they haven’t left the airside area of the UK airport they are connecting through.
Tom Batchelor21 December 2020 16:02
DHL and DPD suspend road deliveries into and out of UK
Delivery giants DHL Express and DPD have said they are being forced to cancel road services into and out of the UK due to travel bans across Europe.
Both companies air cargo operations are unaffected but any shipments from the continent into the UK by truck are suspended.
DPD said: “Following the decision by the French Government to close the border with the UK, we have no choice but to suspend our European road services to continental Europe and the Republic of Ireland with immediate effect.
“With regret we are asking our customers not to send any parcels on our DPD Classic service to either Europe or the Republic of Ireland until further notice. We are also disabling these services on our shipping systems.
“At this stage we do not know how long these services will be unavailable for, but we will provide regular updates as the situation changes.”
DHL said: “As many of you will have heard on the news, due to fears about the spreading of the latest variant of coronavirus, travel links between the United Kingdom and several EU countries including France have been suspended. Ferry ports as well as the Eurotunnel service have been closed.
“This has an immediate impact on our road services (DDI) between both the UK & the Republic of Ireland, and all other continental destinations.
“As a consequence DHL Express unfortunately needs to suspend its road services (DDI) both into and out of the UK, with immediate effect and until further notice.
”Although technically trucks can still enter the UK from mainland Europe, vehicles will be unable to return from the UK thereafter.“
DHL said customers could choose to switch orders to air freight but suggested that high demand could lead to delays.
Tom Batchelor21 December 2020 15:50
Mauritius bans Britons from entering
Mauritius is joining more than 50 countries around the world in banning flights to and from the UK, starting at midnight on Monday.
Aviation analyst Alex Macheras said passengers from other destinations who have been in the UK or South Africa in the past fortnight would also be barred from entering.
Tom Batchelor21 December 2020 15:35
EasyJet removes flight change fee
EasyJet has tweeted that its fees for changing flights have been removed amid ongoing travel uncertainty.
“Due to latest restrictions, we are making managing flights as easy as possible and have currently removed the change fee for flight transfers online via manage my bookings,” the budget airline said.
“We strongly recommend customers self-serve online, due to the volume of calls currently.”
Tom Batchelor21 December 2020 15:23
British Airways operating ‘reduced and dynamic schedule’
British Airways has said it will put in place a “reduced and dynamic schedule” due to the latest global travel bans, and will be contacting customers affected by flight changes or cancellations directly.
The airline, which will be operating cargo-only flights to Hong Kong, but picking up passengers for the return leg, said: “Our focus is on keeping crucial air links open where possible – bringing home customers currently abroad and transporting vital goods, and ensuring people who are permitted to travel can continue to do so safely.
“We will be contacting customers whose flights are cancelled to offer refunds, as well as encouraging customers who wish to change their booking to do so via ba.com, where they can also request a voucher for future travel if their flight continues to operate.”
Tom Batchelor21 December 2020 15:01