Canada has ordered almost all flights from the U.K. to be suspended for 72 hours starting at midnight Monday morning, following the revelation that a more contagious variant of the coronavirus is circulating there. Transport Canada issued a NOTAM on Sunday hitting all scheduled, charter and private passenger flights. Cargo flights, refueling stops where passengers stay onboard and emergency diversions are exempt. Several European countries have also temporarily banned flights from the U.K. The U.S. was still allowing inbound flights from the U.K. as of late Sunday.
The travel bans came as the U.K. began an extensive lockdown to try to get a handle on the outbreak. At least 16 flights from London landed in Canada in the days prior to the ban. Passengers on those that arrived on Sunday were put through more extensive screening and those who arrived earlier in the week will be contacted and told what, if anything, they need to do. At least two Air Canada flights left Toronto and Vancouver for the U.K. on Sunday but there will be no more until the 72 hours are up. “We regret the impact of the government directive to immediately suspend flights on our customers’ travel plans in the middle of the holiday season and will continue to monitor this dynamic situation closely and adjust the schedule as appropriate,” Air Canada said in a statement.