FRANCE has banned Brits travelling into the country amid fears of a mutant strain of coronavirus tearing through London and the South East.
It comes after Brits were today barred from travelling to a string of European countries including Italy, Holland and Belgium – with Germany poised to announce a flight ban this evening.
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Boris Johnson last night cancelled Christmas for millions of Brits – telling them to "stay local" amid fears the variant can spread up to 70 per cent faster.
The PM slapped draconian new Tier 4 measures on London, the South East and East of England, admitting “bitter regret” at axing family get-togethers.
Responding to the news of the variant, the French government tonight confirmed that all flights from the UK would be cancelled for the next 48 hours.
A government spokesman said: "All flows of people from the United Kingdom to France are suspended from midnight tonight, for 48 hours, and for all means of transport".
Germany, which is currently back in lockdown, is also posed to announce a ban on flights into the UK starting at midnight, a Bundestag source told AFP.
The source said Berlin will "make it official in the coming hours", and suggested the same policy could be adopted across the entire 27-member European Union.
An initial ban would last until Britain leaves the EU on January 1, but the source added Berlin is already "working on measures" to extend the flight ban beyond that date.
It comes after a German government official earlier told the DPA news agency restrictions on flights were a "serious option".
Ireland has also announced similar measures banning flights from the UK for the first time in history, RTE reports.
The initial ban is set to last 48 hours and will begin at midnight, with the Cabinet set to meet on Wednesday to decide on a possible extension.
Transport Minister Eamon Ryan told Virgin News: "General travel between here and Britain is going to be restricted, and we will review it on Tuesday morning."
Ferry crossings will continue to keep supply chains moving, the Irish government confirmed.
It comes as the Dutch government earlier announced that all flights from the UK had been banned from entering Holland – with Belgium then following suit by halting flights and the Eurostar trains for at least 24 hours.
It comes after Italy and Austria have also enacted similar measures, while the Israeli government this afternoon also banned entry to all non-Israelis flying in from the UK.
In a statement, the Dutch government said: “Pending further information, and an explanation of the epidemiological situation in the United Kingdom, the public health institute recommends that any introduction of this virus strain from the United Kingdom should be limited as much as possible, by limiting or controlling passenger movement."
It continued: “In the coming days, it will, in close collaboration with other EU member states, look into the possibilities of further restricting imports of the virus from the United Kingdom”.
The ban is in effect from 5am Sunday until January 1.
Meanwhile, Belgium's Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said the country would halt flights and trains from the UK for at least 24 hours from midnight as a "precaution".
He added: "Of course, that could be extended should it appear that we have more conclusive data."
It is understood that the new variant of coronavirus has spread to at least two other countries, The Telegraph reported.
The Netherlands is under a five-week lockdown until mid-January with schools and all non-essential shops closed to slow a surge in the virus.
Europe – the epicentre of the pandemic earlier this year – is once again seeing growing cases with officials fearing an explosion in infections after the Christmas holidays as families gather.
The areas in the new Tier 4 from midnight Saturday
Surrey (excluding Waverley)
The boroughs of Gosport, Havant, Portsmouth, Rother and Hastings
All 32 London boroughs and the city of London.
Bedford, Central Bedfordshire, Milton Keynes, Luton, Peterborough
Essex (excluding Colchester, Uttlesford and Tendring).
And Boris Johnson last night introduced the new measures in the UK amid fears hospitals will be overwhelmed if the new strain gets out of control.
Travel and mixing households are banned from today under the new highest level resctrictions – with families elsewhere only allowed to form Christmas bubbles for one day on December 25 itself.
Scotland also banned travel from England last night – Wales was plunged into Tier 4 restrictions from midnight.
Yet thousands of Londoners fled the capital last night after the announcement.
The city's stations were said to be like "war zones" as locals skipped town before the tough new Tier 4 lockdown came into effect at midnight.
Professor Chris Whitty begged people to stay at home yesterday evening as the rules were unveiled, warning: "If you have packed a bag, unpack it."
Withing hours there were long queues of traffic on roads out of London and chaotic crushes at railway terminals as people fled to avoid the brutal new restrictions.
In St Pancras station hundreds of people were filmed rushing towards barriers to board the trains leaving the capital.
Similar frantic scenes were pictured at Paddington station and King's Cross.
Brits last night reacted with fury at the news Christmas was cancelled, with millions having already made their plans and shelling out for food, booze and gifts.
Many have taken to social media to vent their anger.
One devastated user said: "I'm sorry but my family have spent money on food for my family who are all coming in the next few days. I see my family twice a year and I am absolutely devastated like I cannot explain how upsetting and disheartening this is."
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