The British government has moved quickly to bar all non-citizens coming into the country from Denmark after a “mutant” strain of the novel Coronavirus leapt from farmed Mink to humans in the north of the country. As a sign of just how seriously the situation is being taken, this marks the first time that the UK has imposed an outright ban on foreign visitors since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 200 people in Denmark have already been confirmed to have been infected with the mutant strain, leading to Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen to impose tough quarantine restrictions on around 250,000 residents in northern Denmark close to where the outbreak was detected. All mink in the country are set to be culled.
On Thursday, Denmark was suddenly removed from the UK’s travel corridor list that allows visitors to enter without the need to quarantine. In a surprise move, the British government imposed quarantine restrictions with immediate effect. Normally, travellers are given around 72-hours notice to rush back to the UK to avoid quarantine.
And by Friday, a whole new raft of new measures were urgently imposed to reduce the threat of the variant strain entering the UK – which is already fighting a deadly second wave of the novel Coronavirus.
The measures include:
- Non-British citizens or residents will not be allowed to enter the UK as of 4 am on Saturday, November 7
- Returning citizens and residents, as well as anyone else in their household, will be required to self-isolate for 14-days.
- Unlike other countries where quarantine is required, there will be no exemptions.
- People who returned before November 7 will also be asked to self-isolate, along with their household for two weeks – although this isn’t legally enforceable.
“The UK government is working closely with international partners to understand the changes in the virus that have been reported in Denmark and we are conducting a programme of further research here in the UK to inform our risk assessments,” a statement from the Department for Transport released on Friday night explained.
The restrictions will be reviewed after one week.
Airlines have moved quickly to cancel many services between Denmark and the UK, although there are some flights still operating in order to repatriate British citizens and residents. There are claims that even freight could be banned from entering the UK from Denmark, although the Department for Transport says a further update will follow on that front.
So far, there are no signs that the mutant Coronavirus strain is any deadlier than the strains already in general circulation but there is concern that it may differ so greatly that vaccines currently under development won’t offer any protection against it.
Around 17 million mink will be culled in the fight to contain the outbreak and 5 per cent of Denmark’s population will be placed into lockdown for at least four weeks.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.