Belgium said it would close its borders to trains and aircraft from the UK. The Netherlands announced that it was suspending flights, while Italy said it was planning a similar ban.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and a group of scientists announced Saturday that the new strain of the virus had led to a dizzying increase in infection numbers. The British government tightened COVID-19 restrictions in London and nearby areas, disrupting the Christmas holiday plans of millions of people.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo said the travel ban from the UK applied to Eurostar services via Eurotunnel and would take place for at least 24 hours from midnight on Sunday, Belgian radio station VRT said.
Belgium was also in contact with France for passenger transit from the UK, VRT said.
Italian Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio, announcing plans to stop flights to and from the UK, said: «Our priority is to protect Italy and our compatriots.»
The Netherlands banned passenger flights from the United Kingdom from Sunday and restrictions will be maintained until 1 January, said the Dutch government, which continues to monitor developments and consider additional measures with respect to other means of transport, issuing the «do not travel» notice unless absolutely necessary.
Germany, for its part, weighs restrictions on flights from the UK and South Africa – where a new strain of coronavirus has also been detected – as announced Sunday by the German Ministry of Health.
Austria is also considering banning flights from the UK, the APA news agency said, citing the Ministry of Health.
Spain, for its part, said that, in response to the measures taken by some of its Partners in the European Union, it had asked the European Commission and the European Council for a coordinated Community response to this new situation.
Otherwise, he added, he would act in defence of the interests and rights of Spanish citizens.
Like other European countries, the UK is struggling to contain the new wave of the virus. On Saturday, it reported 27,052 new cases of COVID-19 and 534 more deaths, bringing the total number of contagions to 2 million and deaths to 67,000.
In addition to the measures announced for England, the rest of the UK territories, whose response to the pandemic sometimes differs from that of England, also tightened the restrictions. This is the case in Scotland, which has imposed a travel ban on the rest of the UK.