Mammoth queues at Heathrow as families try to get away before Christmas despite 40 countries closing borders to Brits

GETAWAY passengers sparked chaotic scenes at Heathrow Airport as hundreds of Brits looked to flee the UK ahead of Christmas under Covid lockdown.

More than 40 countries have banned flights to and from the UK and 16 million people living in Tier 4 have been told not to travel, following the spread of a new mutant strain of coronavirus.

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But despite the strict restrictions, terminals at Heathrow remained packed last night with passengers desperately hoping to be able to fly.

A total of 71 flights were cancelled yesterday with dozens more expected to be scrapped today.

Some passengers were left stranded at the airport after seeing flights axed with a small number forced to sleep inside Terminal 2.

Others reported Brits not being allowed to board flights to destinations such as Tenerife.

In Italy, the country's Ministry for Health said it is looking to trace all passengers on a flight from Heathrow to Rome after a couple tested positive for Covid-19 hours after landing.

Seven others who have tested positive since in Italy arriving from Britain in the last week are being kept under observation by Italian authorities over fears they may be carrying the mutant VUI-202012/01 strain.

The new strain, thought to be up to 70 per cent more infectious than the original, was first detected in London earlier this month and has now been identified in at least six other territories around the world.

The alarming spread saw Prime Minister Boris Johnson announce strict restrictions and an order to 'Stay At Home' on Saturday, triggering a wave of travel bans across the world.




France's Le Monde newspaper said the strain "concludes a disaster year for the United Kingdom", while Belgium's HLN paper said that "chaos looms" for the country.

More than 20 countries across Europe – including France, Germany, and Ireland – have imposed bans, as have Canada, India, Israel, and numerous other countries globally.

France also closed its borders to freight lorries from the UK for 48 hours, a move that it is feared could have a "devastating" effect on the supply of food and other goods in Britain.

The new strain is confirmed to have spread to at least five other places – Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Gibraltar, and Australia – but officials have said it is likely to already be circulating in elsewhere.

There have been unverified reports of confirmed cases in Belgium.

Which countries have banned flights from Britain?

The news of the mutant strain of coronavirus spreading in the UK prompted countries around the world to introduce bans on travellers from Britain, including:

  • Argentina: All links with the UK shut.
  • Austria: Flights have been banned from midnight on Tuesday.
  • Belgium: Flights have been banned for a further 24 hours after a one-day suspension was introduced from midnight on Sunday.
  • Bulgaria: Flights suspended until January 31.
  • Canada: Justin Trudeau has tweeted that flights have been temporarily suspended for 72 hours from Sunday night. Brits who arrived on Sunday will be subject to extra screenings and other “advanced measures”.
  • Chile: Flights suspended to the UK from Tuesday. Anyone who has travelled to Britain in the past two weeks and does not have Chilean residency will also be banned.
  • Colombia: All flights to and from the UK have been suspended from midnight Monday until further notice.
  • Croatia: Flights suspended until January 31.
  • B Flights suspended from Monday.
  • El Salvador: Anyone who has traveled to South Africa or the UK in the past 30 days will be denied entry.
  • Estonia: Flights suspended until January 1.
  • Finland: Flights have been suspended for two weeks.
  • France: All travel to the UK was halted for 48 hours on Sunday night, including freight, rail, ferry and air networks. Only unaccompanied freight will be allowed through. Eurostar and Eurotunnel services are not running, while the port at Dover is also closed.
  • Germany: An initial air ban has been brought in until December 31, although authorities are working to extend this into January. Freight is exempt from the ban.
  • Hong Kong: All arrivals from the UK in the last 14 days will have their quarantine extended, while new arrivals will be banned from midnight Tuesday.
  • India: All flights from the UK will be banned until midnight on December 31. Anyone who transits through Britain will automatically be tested on arrival in India.
  • Iran: Flights suspended for two weeks.
  • Ireland: Flights have been banned for 48 hours from midnight on Sunday. The 310 mile long land border remains open at this time
  • Israel: All travellers from Britain, South Africa and Denmark have been banned entry. Israeli citizens returning from these places will be subject to tough quarantine, according to Benjamin Natanyahu.
  • Italy: Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza said he has signed a decree "which blocks flights from Great Britain and prohibits entry into Italy of people who have stayed there during the last 14 days".
  • Jamaica: All incoming flights from the UK are banned until January 4.
  • Jordan: All flights between the kingdom and the UK are suspended until January 3.
  • Kuwait: Banned flights from the UK and added Britain to its list of ‘high-risk nations’.
  • Latvia: Flights suspended until January 1. Bus and ferry services have also been shut down.
  • Lithuania: Flights suspended until January 1.
  • Macedonia: Flights suspended until January 31.
  • Malta: All flights suspended to and from the UK from midnight on Tuesday.
  • Mauritius: Travellers from the UK and South Africa will be banned from midnight, with anyone travelling to those countries in the past 14 days will also be denied entry.
  • Morocco: All flights to the UK banned from Sunday.
  • Netherlands: All air and ferry services have been stopped until January 1 as one new case of the mutant strain has been found in the Netherlands.
  • Norway: All flights suspended for two days.
  • Oman: All borders have closed for two weeks.
  • Peru: All flights to and from Europe have been suspended for two weeks President Francisco Sagasti announced.
  • Poland: All those travelling from the UK will be denied entry from midnight Monday.
  • Portugal: Lisbon has announced its ban in coordination with Spain, it's only neighbour by land.
  • Romania: Flights banned for two weeks.
  • Russia: The Kremlin have suspended air travel between Russia and the UK for a week.
  • Saudi Arabia: All borders have closed for one week. Arrivals from Europe over the weekend will be made to quarantine for two weeks and will be tested.
  • Spain: Madrid has announced that all non-residents and citizens entering from the UK will be banned from Tuesday. Controls on entry will also be tightened in Gibraltar.
  • Sweden: Travellers from the UK and Denmark have been banned from midnight Monday for an initial 48 hours, although Swedish citizens will be exempted.
  • Switzerland: Flights have been suspended until further notice. Arrivals from South Africa are now also banned and ordered into quarantine, although Swiss authorities announced they believe the mutated virus is already circulating in the country, but has yet to show up on tests.
  • Turkey: Flights from the UK, along with South Africa, Denmark and the Netherlands have been suspended.

Scientists have said that the new mutation – dubbed N510Y – was first identified in Brazil more than eight months ago, but is now spreading faster as part of a "constellation of multiple mutations".

It has also been said that the new strain has only been identified because of the work being done in the UK to trek variations of the virus as it moves through the population.

But scientists have also said there is no reason to think the new strain won't respond to the vaccines now being rolled out, nor necessarily any cause for concern until more is known.



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