Travel restrictions tighten further in Europe as COVID-19 is spreading faster

Travel restrictions tighten further in Europe as COVID-19 is spreading faster

England will require testing from all inbound travelers as France has warned that its restrictions on travelers from the U.K. will remain in place for the foreseeable future. This comes as a U.K. minister raised doubt about the efficacy of vaccines against the new, potent South African variant of the virus.

  • Travelers into the U.K., including the country’s citizens, will have to submit a coronavirus test taken in the three days before their departure before they are allowed into the country.

  • The measure comes into effect on Jan. 14 and is likely to trigger a rush back home of some 100,000 Britons currently abroad on a temporary basis.

  • France said on Thursday that it would keep demanding a test from inbound travelers from the U.K. for the foreseeable future, due to the spread of the virus’ new variant.

  • Germany had previously banned all commercial transport from the U.K. until Jan. 20, save for U.K. nationals residing in the country, with the measure to be reviewed then in light of the state of the pandemic.

  • Nearly 53,000 new infections were registered in the U.K. in the last 24 hours and more than 25,000 in France.

  • U.K. transport secretary Grant Shapps said on Friday that doubts about the efficacy of current vaccines against the highly transmissible variant of the virus discovered in South Africa explained the U.K.’s new restrictions. But new research from the University of Texas indicates that at least the vaccine from U.S. drug company Pfizer

    and its German partner BioNTech

    might work against the new mutations.

Read: Pfizer–BioNTech vaccine appears to protect against U.K. and South African COVID-19 strains, study finds

The outlook: With vaccination campaigns still in their early, at times bumbling stage, governments choose to play it safe. Many unknowns still surround the spike of the virus’ two recently-discovered new variants, in the U.K. and South Africa.

International travel is already limited to essential or emergency trips by the new lockdowns across the region. That means that the latest testing requirements should only have a negative but marginal economic impact. But they are likely to remain in place for quite some time.

Read: Why France’s blundering COVID vaccination campaign is seen as a Macron fiasco

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