Belgium grounds all flights from UK to stop spread of new Covid strain
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Belgium has joined the Netherlands in banning all flights from the UK as it also halted all rail connections between the two countries in a bid to slow the spread of a new strain of coronavirus.
Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo said he was issuing the order for 24 hours starting at midnight on Sunday "out of precaution".
There are a great many questions about this new mutation and if it is not already on the mainland," he said as he admitted the situation would be clearer by Tuesday.
Both Germany and France are considering similar moves as a form of damage limitation, while the Netherlands made the decision late on Saturday.
Flights with UK travellers will not be allowed into Netherlands until January 1 according to a government statement.
“An infectious mutation of the COVID-19 virus is circulating in the United Kingdom. It is said to spread more easily and faster and is more difficult to detect,” the country's health ministry said in a statement.
The ban came after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and scientists announced on Saturday that the new strain of coronavirus identified in the country is up to 70% more infectious.
And with that in mind, they plunged parts of London and southern England into a new Tier 4 lockdown, effectively cancelling Christmas.
From Sunday, residents living in Tier 4 must not leave their area and will be subject to a legal stay at home order, while they will not be able to form or join Christmas bubbles.
People could risk arrest and fines if they break the rules but Mr Johnson said the "bulk of the population" will continue to do the right thing.
- Boris Johnson
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