Hours after United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that holiday shopping and gatherings in southern England must be cancelled due to the rapid spread of a new strain of the Covid-19 coronavirus, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, and the Netherlands of the European Union announced bans on flights from the U.K. Prime Minister Johnson announced that the new strain of the coronavirus is roughly 70% more transmissible than existing strains, but emphasized that as of now, "there's no evidence to suggest it is more lethal or causes more severe illness". the new strain of the virus was actually detected in southeastern England in September, and has also been identified in Australia, Denmark, and the Netherlands, though the virus was unable to gain a foothold in the nations. Studies are currently underway, but it was not until last week that British officials felt they had sufficient evidence to declare higher transmissibility.
The British Government's Chief Scientific Advisor Patrick Vallance said that the new strain contains "an unusually large number of variants", and has 23 different changes that could affect how the virus binds to and enters cells in the human body. As of now, the United Kingdom has reported over 2 million confirmed cases of the virus along with over 67,000 Covid-19 coronavirus-related deaths.
France has temporarily banned all travel from the U.K. for 48 hours starting on midnight on Sunday to buy time for authorities to decide on "a common doctrine" to deal with the new threat. Similarly, Belgium has issued a 24 hour flight ban and halted train links to the U.K. On the other hand, the German Ministry of Transport stated that all flights with the exception of cargo flights originating from the U.K. will not be permitted to land in Germany effective midnight Sunday, though they did not specify how long the flight ban will last.
The Netherlands has banned flights from the U.K. for the rest of the year, though official reports suggest that bans could be extended depending on circumstances. Austria and Italy also announced flight bans, though so far have specific when the bans begin.
Note: The first, second, and fourth photos used in this article were retrieved from the public domain and do not require attribution or citation for commercial purposes. The third photo is my own personal photo.