OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) — As of Monday, Canada will no longer allow inbound passenger flights from the United Kingdom in an effort to prevent a new variant of the coronavirus from making it into the country.
The ban will not apply to cargo flights, or flights where no one gets off of the plane.
It will remain in effect for 72 hours.
We are suspending flights from the United Kingdom and putting in place enhanced measures for those who have recently arrived from the UK. We will always take whatever action is necessary to keep Canadians safe. https://t.co/5BUoP1KfO9
— Patty Hajdu (@PattyHajdu) December 21, 2020
This decision follows the discovery of a new variant of the coronavirus that has been spreading quickly across the UK. The new virus strain prompted an emergency lockdown Saturday. Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, and Belgium have also halted flights.
The news comes after a closed-door meeting with members of the Incident Response Team.
“Given the high number of cases of a variant COVID-19 virus observed in some areas in the United Kingdom, the decision has been made to suspend entry into Canada of all commercial and private passenger flights from the United Kingdom,” reads a release from the Public Health Agency of Canada.
“Genetic variation of viruses such as the one that causes COVID-19 is to be expected and have been previously observed in parts of the world this year. While early data suggest that the United Kingdom variant may be more transmissible, to date there is no evidence that the mutations have any impact on symptom severity, antibody response or vaccine efficacy.”
The new strain is wreaking havoc on the U.K., accounting for 60 per cent of new infections in London by December.
The British government has said the strain has been circulating since September, but it wasn’t until the last week that there was enough evidence to declare that it has higher transmissibility than other circulating coronaviruses.