The Dutch government has banned all passenger flights from Britain after finding the first case of a new, more infectious coronavirus strain that is circulating in the UK, AFP reports.
The ban begins at 6:00 a.m. on Sunday and will continue until January 1. The announcement came hours after Britain announced a stay at home order for part of the country to slow the new variant.
"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 Dutch health ministry said in a statement quoted by AFP.
The Dutch public health body, the RIVM, therefore "recommends that any introduction of this virus strain from the United Kingdom be limited as much as possible by limiting and/or controlling passenger movements."
The health ministry added that a "case study in the Netherlands at the beginning of December revealed a virus with the variant described in the United Kingdom."
Prime Minister Mark Rutte's cabinet had now taken the "precautionary decision" to ban flights from Britain, the statement said, adding that other forms of transport were still under review.
The Netherlands is currently under a five-week lockdown until mid-January with schools and all non-essential shops closed to slow a surge in the virus.