Several EU nations impose UK travel bans over new variant


France, Belgium and the Netherlands have joined Ireland and a growing list of European countries to impose travel restrictions on the UK as a result of the new coronavirus variant.


An EU meeting on Monday morning will discuss a more coordinated response.


France has suspended "all flows" of people from the United Kingdom for 48 hours, and for all means of transport.


A government spokesman said the ban also includes all incoming accompanied freight by road, air, sea or rail.


The Port of Dover has since closed to "all accompanied traffic leaving the UK until further notice due to border restrictions in France".


Ireland's restrictions on flights and ferries will last for an initial 48 hours before being reviewed during a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.


Top health officials said that there was no evidence the new variant was more deadly, or would react differently to vaccines, but it was proving to be up to 70% more transmissible.


Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the new strain "was out of control."


"We have got to get it under control. It is an incredibly difficult end to frankly an awful year."


The country on Sunday reported a daily increase of more than 13,000 cases - a new record, despite tough lockdown measures being applied on 14 December.


In Germany, an order from the ministry of transport said planes from the UK will not be allowed to land after midnight on Sunday, although cargo would be an exception.


The Netherlands has banned flights for at least the rest of the year and will assess have said that they will assess with other EU nations the possibilities to contain the import of the virus from the United Kingdom.


Turkey, Austria and the Czech Republic are also imposing new measures against UK flights, with Prague announcing that people arriving in the country having spent at least 24 hours in UK territory will now need to self-isolate.


Britain has alerted the World Health Organisation over the new variant identified this week, saying that it accounted for some 60% of London's cases.


Dr Susan Hopkins, of Public Health England, said the new variant had spread to every region of England - as well as parts of Scotland and Wales, but in smaller amounts.


The new variant was first detected as early as September. In November it made up around a quarter of cases in London. This has resulted in London and some of its surrounding areas being placed in Tier 4.