Countries ban UK flights as Britain says new virus strain ‘out of control’

Several European countries have banned, or are planning to ban, travel from the UK to prevent the spread of a more infectious coronavirus variant.

The Netherlands and Belgium have halted flights, with Italy to follow suit. Trains to Belgium are also suspended.

Ireland is expected to restrict flights and ferries from midnight (23:00 GMT) on Sunday. France and Germany are among others considering similar action.

The new variant has spread quickly in London and south-east England.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday introduced a new tier four level of restrictions, scrapping a planned relaxation of rules over the Christmas period for millions of people.

Top health officials said that there was no evidence the new variant was more deadly, or would react differently to vaccines, but it was proving to be up to 70% more transmissible.