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Belgium temporarily bans travel from United Kingdom
Belgium will ban travel from the United Kingdom from midnight tonight (Sunday) as a precautionary measure after a highly contagious strain of coronavirus was detected in the south of England.
Prime minister Alexander De Croo said the ban on flights - and Eurostar services - from the UK to Belgium would initially apply for 24 hours, pending further scientific advice.
He told VRT's De Zevende Dag programme: "We don't have a conclusive answer yet."
Eurostar will run no London-Brussels services, in either direction, on Monday.
The rail operator said: "Due to the Belgian government’s announcement that borders with the UK will close at midnight on Sunday 20 December, we are unable to run any trains between London, Brussels and Amsterdam on Monday 21 December. The Belgian government has said it will review the position in 24 hours."
The Channel Tunnel is closed to all freight and passenger vehicles from the UK to France for 48 hours, from 22.00 on Sunday night.
The Belgian interior ministry said in a statement that Belgian citizens and residents who are at risk of being stranded in the UK can contact the Belgian Embassy in London or the foreign ministry for help.
KU Leuven microbiologist Emmanuel André told RTBF: "In the past, the authorities have been criticised for delaying decisions for too long. This time action has been taken very quickly. It remains to be seen whether the response is proportionate, but taking precautions is justified."
Britain announced tougher coronavirus restrictions on Saturday, including a ban on all Christmas meet-ups for almost 18 million residents in London and the south-east.
Belgium follows the Netherlands, which has also announced a ban on travel from the UK. France, Italy and Germany have now applied similar measures. EU member states will meet on Monday morning to discuss a coordinated response.