Austria adds UK to travel ban red list over Indian Covid variant fears

THE UK has been added to Austria’s red list. 

All direct flights to the country have been banned, because of the rise in cases of the Indian variant here in the UK. 

Only Austrian citizens and residents will be allowed into the country from the United Kingdom from June 1. 

It follows a decision by Germany to place a travel ban on the UK over the weekend, over Covid variant fears.

Since midnight on Sunday,  people travelling to Germany from Great Britain and Northern Ireland may only enter the country if they are a German citizen or resident.

Spouses and children under 18 of a German citizen or resident can also enter, as long as the household are travelling together.

Those with an urgent humanitarian reason such as an immediate family bereavement are also able to enter, however anyone entering the country from the UK must quarantine for two weeks on arrival, even if they test negative for the coronavirus.

People who are only transferring from one flight to another will still be allowed in – but they must remain in the airport transit area.

France has also warned of fresh UK travel restrictions, but said it will not go as far as an outright ban.

French foreign affairs minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told RTL radio: "We worry about the Indian variant and we remain on high alert regarding that matter, in co-operation with British authorities."

He added: "We hope that the variant can be controlled in a country which experienced real failures during the pandemic.

"However, the arrival of the Indian variant and the increase of cases of Indian variant in the United Kingdom pose a problem and so we are vigilant about this [and] in contact with the British authorities.

"It won't be the red treatment if we have to do it. It will be an intermediate treatment."

The move comes after Spain lifted travel restrictions on British visitors yesterday, with up to 100,000 holidaymakers expected to fly this week against the government advice.

Despite the surge in flights, the PM and government have warned Brits not to travel to Spain as it remains on the amber list.

Boris Johnson's spokesman said: "Our advice hasn't changed in regards to amber list countries.

"We have been clear that people shouldn't be travelling to amber list countries for the purposes of holidays."

The new Covid variant from India is spreading at an alarming rate in the UK, putting lockdown easing at risk.

Public Health England (PHE) reports there are almost 3,500 cases in the UK, of which 3,245 are in England.

The data is up to May 19. More recent data from the Covid-19 Genomics UK Consortium (COG-UK) suggests the true number is double that, at 6,431. Although this is a preliminary number.

The true numbers are likely higher because only around half of positive test swabs are screened to see which variant they are caused by.

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