Netherlands lifts UK and SA travel ban for passengers with negative tests
On Tuesday evening, the Dutch government released a statement announcing that the flight ban they had placed on South Africa and the United Kingdom as a result of the discovery of a new, highly contagious COVID-mutation has been lifted. However, from Wednesday, all passengers will have to present proof of a recent negative coronavirus PCR test before they will be allowed to travel.
Dutch government lifts UK and SA travel ban
The government implemented the UK travel ban on December 20, after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced stricter coronavirus measures and announced a new strain of COVID-19 was present in parts of England, causing a surge in the number of cases. The ban applied to all passenger flights from the UK, and came into effect at 6am on December 20. Then, to further limit the spread of the new strain, on December 21, the government introduced an immediate ban on all passenger flights from South Africa.
These travel bans were set to remain in place until at least January 1. However, the government has revised this, lifting restrictions for any travellers that can provide proof of a negative test result. The PCR test must be taken a maximum of 72 hours before the passenger is due to land at a Dutch airport. The government has also announced plans to make this standard procedure for all travellers arriving in the Netherlands, but it is unsure when this will come into effect.
This rule also applies to all Dutch citizens, and upon arrival in the Netherlands, all travellers from the UK and South Africa will be expected to immediately go into quarantine for 10 days. The government’s revision of the initial travel ban comes as France reopened their border with the UK to all French and EU citizens with a recent negative test result, and Germany announced that its citizens would be allowed to reenter the country after January 1.
Two cases of new coronavirus strain identified in Amsterdam
The numbers published in the National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) weekly coronavirus report show that the hard lockdown announced by Prime Minister Mark Rutte on December 15 are yet to take effect. Almost all of the municipalities across the Netherlands reported at least one new coronavirus case between December 16 and December 22, with only Schiermonnikoog (one of the Dutch Wadden islands) remaining COVID-free.
This weekly update was accompanied by the news that a further two cases of the new “British” coronavirus mutation have been reported in the Netherlands. The two people diagnosed with the new strain are both from the Amsterdam region, but only one of them had recently travelled to the UK.
Health Minister Hugo de Jonge hasn’t ruled out the possibility that even more people in the Netherlands have contracted this new, highly contagious mutation of COVID-19. However, he doesn’t believe the country will have a high number of cases: "We don't think it will be very widespread, not comparable to the English situation." With the two cases diagnosed in Amsterdam, the Netherlands has now reported three cases of the new strain.
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