CR halts flights from UK, travellers must enter quarantine

Illustrative photo: skipp604/Pixabay, CC0

The Czech Republic has joined other countries around the world in suspending flights from the UK following the detection there of a more infectious variant of the coronavirus. A negative test will not suffice for those who do manage to make it from the UK – they must enter quarantine, says Prague.

On Sunday several countries, including France, Germany and Italy, said they were halting flights arriving from the United Kingdom.

This follows the discovery there of a more infectious variant of Covid-19.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there was no evidence the new strain caused more severe illness or higher mortality – but it could be up to 70 percent more transmissible.

The Czech Republic soon followed the lead of the other states. After first imposing stricter quarantine measures for those arriving from Britain, it said on Monday morning that no planes from the UK would be allowed to land in the country from midday.

The Czech minister of health, Tomáš Petříček, spoke to Czech Radio early in the day.

Tomáš Petříček,  photo: Michaela Danelová / Czech Radio

“The government was forced to decide in the evening that people who returned from Great Britain would have to enter compulsory quarantine. It’s not possible to travel with a negative test alone. Planes from the UK to the Czech Republic are being temporarily suspended today.”

However, the Prague government has not closed its borders to those travelling from Great Britain, said the minister.

“It’s still possible to travel by land but caution is necessary, given the uncertainty and lack of scientific information on the new mutation of the coronavirus. Nevertheless, people can of course come back, if they maintain all the hygiene conditions and rules and go into quarantine.”

In concrete terms, those who have spent at least 24 hours in the UK must self-isolate when they reach the Czech Republic.

Once they have been in the country for five to seven days they can undergo a PCR test. If that is negative the quarantine period is over. If not, they must remain at home for 10 days in total.

Mr. Petříček said if any Czechs were trying to reach the UK this week they would mainly face logistical hurdles.

“At the present moment there are also major restrictions when it comes to travelling to Great Britain. Naturally almost all European Union countries are going to halt flights, at minimum temporarily – at least for a day or two, some of them until the end of December. So complications will chiefly be of a practical nature.”

A spokesperson for Prague’s Václav Havel Airport said flights from there to the United Kingdom had not been cancelled.

Around 30 return flights between the UK and the Czech Republic are scheduled between now and the end of the year, the period for which the ban on landings in this country is in place, the spokesperson said.