A growing number of nations are banning flights from the UK until at least early next year as fears mount over a possible more transmissible strain of the coronavirus spreading quickly across southern England.
Canada, Israel and Argentina have joined several European nations including France, Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland, Italy, Austria, Denmark and Switzerland in banning flights from the UK. The move comes as British prime minister Boris Johnson placed London and the southeast of England under Tier 4 restrictions on Saturday night in response to a new strain of COVID-19 which is believed to be more transmissible, and is blamed on rapidly spreading infections.
The British government imposed tighter lockdown restrictions on the affected regions, including the closure of all nonessential retail. People are not permitted to travel outside their region, and a ban on household mixing will remain in place.
"It's vital to follow the new guidance to protect others [and] our NHS," Britain's transport minister Grant Schapps tweeted. "If you're in Tier 4 you must not travel – or stay away from home overnight." He advised that passengers who booked a train or coach ticket for a journey between December 23 and 27, after the new restrictions were announced, would be entitled to a full refund. "No-one should be left out of pocket for doing the right thing," he added.
In response to the travel ban Virgin Atlantic said customers have the option to rebook up until December 31, with name change and two date change fees waived. British Airways is also letting customers rebook for free or request a voucher to travel at a later date. "As always, if a customer’s flight is cancelled they are entitled to a full refund or a voucher," the airline said. Aer Lingus said all customers whose flights have been cancelled will be entitled to a voucher or full refund, while Ryanair advised passengers they will provided with a full refund if their flight has been cancelled, or "practical alternatives".
The US has not placed a travel ban on the UK but the State Department currently recommends travelers reconsider visiting the UK, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends against traveling there.
See the full list of countries with UK travel bans, at the time of publication, below:
Argentina: Banned all inbound UK flights from December 21.
Belgium: Banned inbound UK flights for at least 24 hours from December 20. banned flights from the UK for at least 24 hours from midnight on Sunday.
Bulgaria: Banned flights to and from the UK until January 31.
Canada: Banned all UK flights for 72 hours from December 20.
Chile: Banned flights from the UK from December 22.
Colombia: Banning all flights to the UK
Croatia: Restricting travel for air passengers from the UK
Denmark: Suspending flights from the UK for 48 hours from December 21.
El Salvador: Anyone who had been in Britain or South Africa in the past 30 days will not be allowed to enter the country.
Estonia: Suspended flights from the UK until further notice.
Finland: Suspended all flights between Finland and the UK until January 4.
France: Banned all travel from the UK for 48 hours, including journeys “related to goods transport by road, air, sea or rail” from December 20.
Germany: Suspended all air travel with the UK until December 31. Cargo flights will be exempt.
Hong Kong: Will ban all flights arriving from the United Kingdom from midnight local time on Monday
Italy: Health Minister Roberto Speranza signed an ordinance "which blocks flights from Great Britain and prohibits entry into Italy of people who have stayed there during the last 14 days". The travel ban will remain in place until January 6.
India: Suspending all flights from the UK until the end of the year.
Iran: Suspending all flights from the UK for two weeks from December 20, state news agency IRNA reported.
Ireland: Banned all flights from the UK from midnight Sunday for at least 48 hours.
Israel said it was barring entry to foreign citizens travelling from the UK, Denmark and South Africa.
Latvia: Suspended flights from the UK until further notice.
Lithuania: Suspended flights from the UK until further notice.
Morocco: Banned all flights to the UK beginning on December 20.
Norway: As of December 21, Norway will ban flights from the UK for at least 48 hours.
The Netherlands: As of December 20, the Netherlands is banning flights from the UK for at least the rest of the year.
Poland: Suspending flights from the UK as of December 21.
Romania: Banned all flights to and from the UK for 14 days as of December 21.
Switzerland: Suspended flights until further notice.
Turkey: Suspended flights from the UK.