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The emergence of a new strain of COVID-19 in England has prompted several European countries to ban flights arriving from the UK, causing travel chaos as the Christmas holiday period begins.

The flight cancellations and travel restrictions come as Europe prepares for a Christmas in lockdown, with most countries discouraging travel over the holiday period and banning large gatherings of family and friends. While fewer Brits would be planning to travel over Christmas than normal, those that were have had their plans thrown into disarray by the new travel bans.

family christmas dinner

New COVID Strain Prompts Travel Restrictions

On Friday December 18 the UK government announced new travel restrictions for London and parts of southeast England amid a surge in COVID-19 cases caused by a new strain of the virus. With concerns that the new strain is potentially more easily spread, a number of countries have responded to the news by banning flights arriving from the UK or introducing new quarantine measures for British travelers.

travelers wearing masks queue at uk border control

The Netherlands was the first country to announce a ban on flights from the UK, coming into effect on the morning of Sunday December 20, but since then other countries have followed suit, while the EU Commission may issue a European-wide ban on flights from the UK. The latest available information on travel restrictions is provided below.

Austria

The country has said it will ban flights from the UK but has provided no more details as yet.

Belgium

An initial 24 hour ban on flights and trains arriving from the UK is in place from midnight local time on Sunday. The ban could be extended.

Bulgaria

Flights to and from the UK are suspended from midnight on Sunday to January 31.

Czech Republic

Brits arriving in the country from Sunday will have to quarantine for 10 days.

France

The government has suspended all travel from the UK including flights and trains for 48 hours.

Germany

Flights arriving from the UK will be suspended from midnight on Sunday.

Italy

The foreign minister announced a ban on UK flights but further details have not yet been released.

Ireland

Flights and ferries between Britain and Ireland will be restricted from midnight Sunday.

Israel

British nationals will not be allowed to board planes to Israel from Sunday. Dual citizens and Israeli citizens arriving from the UK will have to quarantine for 14 days.

The Netherlands

Flights suspended from Sunday morning until January 1. Train travel from the UK will also be restricted.

Spain

The government is considering suspending flights but is pushing for a coordinated European response.

Romania

Flights from the UK will be banned for two weeks starting in the afternoon on Monday December 21.

Frozen canal in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Flight Cancelations, Travel Restrictions & Brexit Cause Confusion

Aside from these announcements by European countries, travel company TUI has cancelled all its flights from London Luton Airport for 10 days between December 20 and December 30 due to the new travel restrictions in place by the British government. The company will continue to operate flights from London Gatwick and Stansted.

Those who had planned to travel abroad over Christmas are facing further headaches from the news that British Airways and Virgin Atlantic will not issue refunds unless flights are cancelled. This could leave travelers out of pocket given that under the new UK regulations those living in Tier 4 areas, which covers London and most of southeast England, are not allowed to travel abroad unless for urgent work purposes.

british airways plane

The planned easing of restrictions for Christmas has also been dropped, with only those living in tiers 1, 2 and 3 permitted to mix outside their household bubble, and only for one day on December 25. Travel between Scotland and England is not allowed throughout the Christmas period. There have been reports of overcrowding on trains and packed roads across the UK over the weekend as people sought to escape tier 4 restrictions before Christmas.

On top of the latest travel restrictions, British tourists to Europe were already facing difficulties from January 1 following the end of the Brexit transition period, as the UK will join a list of third countries from which visitors to the EU are currently not allowed due to the pandemic. This will add to the considerable confusion and concern of British travelers as we enter the new year, with the uncertainty making planning trips to Europe almost impossible over the coming weeks.

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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling.  Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories



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