Estonia has suspended all air traffic with the United Kingdom from midnight on Monday (December 21) after the U.K reported the discovery of a new strain of the coronavirus.
On Sunday, the government supported the proposal of Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas (Center) to suspend air traffic between Estonia and the United Kingdom from midnight until the end of this year.
Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) said: "The Government agreed that it was necessary to take precautionary measures and temporarily suspend air traffic with the UK until the new year, along with other countries. The decision was made to protect the health of our people."
He said the general recommendation to avoid traveling abroad during the Christmas holidays and during the school holidays still stands.
Several other countries have also suspended air traffic with the U.K, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, including Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Sweden.
The ministry said in a statement: "Due to the spread of a new coronavirus variant in the UK, the Estonian Ministry of Foreign affairs strongly advises against any travel to the UK. When travelling to the UK, additional restrictions may apply upon return from the UK or arriving in other countries from the UK, also there is a risk of unforeseen travel disruptions."
Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas said: "The restriction on the transport of air passengers between Estonia and the United Kingdom is temporary and the government will review it as soon as we have more information about the new strain of coronavirus."
Lithuania's new Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabrielius Landsbergis said on social media the three Baltic states had worked together to make the decision.
Not an easy Sunday. Together with LV and EE made decision to stop flights from UK starting tonight and ending 1st of January. Also with @edgarsrinkevics and @UrmasReinsalu called for more EU coordination in a letter to @HeikoMaas. Virus is moving fast, EU cannot move slower.— Gabrielius Landsbergis (@GLandsbergis) December 20, 2020
The new mutated form of the coronavirus discovered in the United Kingdom has spread rapidly in the South-East of England and is thought to be more infectious than other strains, the BBC reports. The U.K's Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock said on Sunday the strain is "out of control".
Member of the government's scientific council virology professor Irja Lutsar told "Aktuualne kaamera" on Sunday that, as far as scientists are aware, the new strain has not yet been detected in Estonia.
The latest travel news can be viewed on the Ministry of Foreign Affair's website.
Editor: Helen Wright