UK closes all travel corridors; Covid restrictions tighten in Spain and Italy

Madrid Desk, Jan 15 (efe-epa).- Officials in Madrid plan to bring the nightly curfew forward while the UK closes all travel corridors from Monday and bans arrivals from South America and Portugal over fears of a new coronavirus variant detected in Brazil.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to extend current coronavirus restrictions and possibly adopt new ones following a meeting next Tuesday, while Italy continues its vaccine rollouts and becomes the most vaccinated nation in the European Union with one million inoculated. UNITED KINGDOM

British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced on Friday the suspension of all travel corridors from Monday to “protect against the risk of as yet unidentified new Covid strains.”

The announcement comes after Friday’s decision to ban all flights from South American and Portugal over fears of a new coronavirus variant detected in Brazil.

The flight ban, which includes all South American nations, as well as Panama, Cape Verde and Portugal, came into effect Friday but exempts British and Irish nationals as well as third-party UK residents.

Wendy Barclay, head of the Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial College London told local media that experts in the UK had detected another variant in the country that had also come from Brazil but was not the one “of concern.”

The UK Prime Minister said the new rules would be in force until at least 15 February. SPAIN

Madrid is to bring its nightly curfew forward by one hour and authorities have asked the public only to lower masks when dining in bars and restaurants when they are drinking or eating.

The 14-day cumulative incidence rate in the Spanish capital has soared from 390 cases per 100,000 to 636 cases per 100,000 in the space of a week following an extended festive period, during which travel restrictions were slightly relaxed to facilitate family gatherings.

The new rules, set to come into effect on Monday, include a strong recommendation to avoid household mixing in private homes, although the measure will not be legally enforced, deputy regional health minister Antonio Zapatero said in a news conference.

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