Flights from Britain to the Czech Republic shut down due to new strain of the coronavirus

Travel measures are likely to be unified on the European level to contain the new strain.

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 21.12.2020 14:12 (updated on 22.12.2020)

The Czech Republic has stopped flights from Britain as of noon today due to a new coronavirus strain there, the Health Ministry announced. Flights to Britain are not banned. Many other countries in Europe as well as across the globe have also stopped incoming flights from Britain.

The new strain of the coronavirus was detected in southern England, and experts say it may spread faster than other strains.

“As of 12:00, no aircraft from Britain may land in the Czech Republic. The flights from this destination are stopped,” the Health Ministry said on social media.

The ban on arrivals from Britain will be valid till the end of the year at the latest, the Health Ministry said. The measure does not cover repatriation and emergency flights.

Prague airport spokeswoman Kateřina Pavlíková said the airlines had not yet canceled the flights from Prague to the Britain. “Some 30 return flights with Britain as their destination, namely from London, Bristol, Manchester and Edinburgh, are planned until the end of the year,” Pavlíková said.

“On account of the forthcoming Christmas and New Year holidays, we recorded an increased interest in the trips in the past days. Flights from Prague to Britain were offered by British Airways, Ryanair, ČSA and easyJet," she added.

According to information available at the website of the Václav Havel Airport Prague, four flights from London were to land in Prague, one at 10:15 a.m. and the rest in the afternoon when the arrivals are banned.

The Czech Foreign Ministry does not have information that any Czech citizens now in Britain were in urgent need, the ministry has told journalists.

Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček (ČSSD) said he wants to discuss the situation at the government meeting today.

The protective measure taken by the Health Ministry is temporary, the Foreign Ministry said. “The measures may be modified and unified after today's talks on the European level,” the Foreign Ministry added.

By stopping the flights temporarily, the Czech Republic has reacted, like other EU states, to a shortage of information about the spread of the new coronavirus mutation in Britain. “The measures may still be further modified and unified after today's negotiations on the EU level,” the Interior Ministry Jan Hamáček (ČSSD) said.

Hamáček told the media that European coordination is a priority in order to prevent travelers avoiding the ban by changing a plane in a state that has not banned arrivals from Britain.

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He also said Prague's priority is to help the people who have no background in Britain. “It may be too early to speak about repatriations now. Let’s suppose that the current measures are temporary and may be changed depending on the development of the situation,” he told the Czech News Agency (ČTK).

The British Embassy in Prague said that British and Czech citizens who plan to return from Britain or fly to Britain have been turning to it since Sunday evening. The embassy has been providing information on social networks and its website. Czechs in Britain, affected by the flight ban should contact the Czech Embassy in London.

Since Sunday, Dec. 20, arrivals from Britain have had to enter a mandatory home quarantine in the Czech Republic. It applies to people who spent at least 24 hours in Britain. On the fifth to seventh day after the arrival to the Czech Republic, they undergo a PCR test for COVID-19. If the result is negative, their quarantine ends. In the opposite case, the home isolation lasts 10 days.

Britain has for some time figured among the “red countries,” meaning those posing the highest coronavirus risk, on the Czech Health Ministry's traffic light travel map. People who have spent over 12 hours in these countries in the past two weeks have to fill in a form and undergo a COVID-19 test or produce a fresh foreign test result on arrival in the Czech Republic.