FAQ: India Bans UK Flights Over Virus Variant – What You Must Know
Several countries including Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Germany France & Italy have announced suspension of travel.
The Indian government has temporarily suspended all flights from and to the United Kingdom from Wednesday, 23 December to 31 December until 11:59 pm, over the new “out of control” variant of the coronavirus in the country.
A growing list of countries suspended flights to UK even as their Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced stringent lockdown measures over Christmas in London and other parts of southeast England.
So, which countries have placed a travel ban to UK? How long will the suspension be effective? Here’s all you need to know.
What has India announced?
“Considering the prevailing situation in the UK, Indian government has decided that all flights originating from the UK to India shall be temporarily suspended till 11:59 pm, 31st December. This suspension to start w.e.f. 11.59 pm, 22nd December,” the Ministry of Civil Aviation said on Monday, 21 December.
Amid rising concerns over the new variant of COVID-19 being discovered in the UK, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Monday, 21 December, said that the government is alert and that there is no need to panic.
What about people who are landing from UK before 22 December?
All passengers arriving from UK in all transit flights – flights that have taken off or flights which are reaching India before 22 December – should be subject to mandatory RT-PCR test on arrival at the airports concerned.
All passengers arriving before 23 December are expected to self-isolate for seven days.
I had to travel from Delhi to London on 23 December. What happens to my tickets?
There is no information on this yet. Watch this space for more information.
Wait, but international travel is still banned, right?
Yes, while international travel is still banned, flights to UK are operational under the air bubble scheme.
India and the UK were connected by several airlines, including Air India, Vistara, British Airways, and Virgin Atlantic. Flights connecting London to Indian airports like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Amritsar were available on most days of the week.
Which European countries have placed a travel ban?
- The Netherlands was the first nation to ban travel from the UK, saying that it would halt all passenger flights till 1 January, starting Sunday.
- Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Germany and France announced precautionary travel bans on Sunday, with Italy halting its travel till 6 January.
- Bulgaria, unlike most other nations which has employed short-term measures, has banned all flights to and from the UK till 31 January 2021.
- Greece, on the other hand, has imposed a seven-day quarantine period for all travellers coming in from the United Kingdom.
Which countries, outside EU, have imposed travel ban?
Israel, Turkey and Kuwait and have also temporarily suspended flights departing from or arriving in the United Kingdom, with Saudi Arabia imposing a week-long travel ban to the UK.
How has the United States responded?
The US authorities have not yet stopped travel from the UK, claiming that they are looking "very carefully" into the virus variant spreading in Britain, NDTV reported.
Has the new variant been spotted in other countries?
Italy saw its first patient infected with the new variant of coronavirus, the Italian health ministry informed on Sunday, Reuters reported. No other country, apart from UK, has reported cases related to the new variant yet.
Is the new variant vaccine-resistant?
England's chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, said in a statement to CNN, “There is no current evidence to suggest the new variant causes a higher mortality rate or that it affects vaccines and treatments although urgent work is underway to confirm this.”
Whitty has also urged people to take precautions to reduce transmission amid the danger of the new variant.
However, several experts are noting that this variant could just be highly mutated in a way that somehow makes it spread more easily without causing more serious illness, amplified by a super-spreader event, CNN reported.
(With inputs from CNN, BBC, NDTV and Reuters)
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