Austria reinstates ban on direct flights from the UK due to Indian variant concerns

May 26, 2021

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The Austrian government is implementing another ban on flights arriving directly from the U.K., this time based on concerns that incoming travellers may spread the India-linked COVID-19 variant. The ban goes into effect 1 June, and will impact carriers such as Austrian Airlines, British Airways, Ryanair and EasyJet.

This new ban is in addition to existing restrictions on British travellers entering Austria, regardless of their route. Only Austrian citizens and residents are currently allowed to enter the country, according to a statement put out by the Austrian health ministry. All incoming travellers must carry proof they have been vaccinated against COVID, or provide a recent negative test result. There are only a few exceptions to the ban, limited to those who are traveling for what are classified as humanitarian reasons or for visits that are in the name of urgent national interest.

Those allowed to enter under those exceptions must still take a PCR test within 24 hours of landing in Austria.

Related: Everything you need to know about COVID-19 testing for travel

Austria is currently on the U.K. Government’s amber list for travel. Travellers who arrive in England from an amber list destination such as Austria will need to have a negative pre-departure COVID-19 test result, which can be from a lateral flow device. Additionally, they will need to self-isolate for 10 days at home. Before their travel, they will need to pre-book a COVID-19 testing package through the government and take a PCR test on days two and eight of their quarantine.

Austria had banned U.K. flights once before during the pandemic, back in December 2020, due to the spread of the Kent variant, though the ban was reversed on 21 March. This latest decision comes as other EU countries expressed worry that the India variant is spreading. The U.K. has been added to a list of “virus variant states” that have been struggling to contain more transmissible strains of the virus. That list also includes Brazil, India and South Africa.

Germany has already imposed similar restrictions on the U.K. Berlin has labelled Britain an “area of variant concern” and banned all non-essential travel to and from the country. German citizens and residents are allowed to come back home from the U.K., but they must produce a negative COVID-19 test, no older than 48 hours, and must quarantine for two weeks.

Related: Everything you need to know about transiting through European airports during the pandemic

France is also considering restricting travel from the UK, due to the rapid increase in the strain’s spread in recent days. The latest official statistics showing a 160% week-to-week surge. The U.K. has detected nearly 4,000 cases of the so-called Indian strain and its sub-variants, which has raised concerns that the outbreak may jeopardise plans to remove all legal limits on social distancing on 21 June.

Featured image by: Photo by LittleIvan via Twenty20

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