Air travel between the two countries has been suspended, Italy's health minister said on Sunday.
Health Minister Roberto Speranza stated on Sunday afternoon that he had signed an ordinance “which blocks flights from Great Britain and prohibits entry into Italy of people who have stayed there during the last 14 days”.
The travel ban applies from December 20th until January 6th, according to an update on the Italian government's travel advice website.
Anyone already in Italy who recently travelled from Britain “is required to undergo an antigen or molecular swab test by contacting the health authorities,” Speranza added.
Regno Unito, verso la chiusura dei voli dal Paese. “Trovata variante del virus, abbiamo di fronte un problema nuovo. In attesa di capire bene abbiamo scelto di bloccare i voli” @robersperanza ministro della Salute#mezzorainpiù @RaiTre pic.twitter.com/w1wHdVY7tY
— Mezz'ora in Più (@Mezzorainpiu) December 20, 2020
“As a government we have a duty to protect Italians. For this reason, after having notified the English government, along with the Ministry of Health we are about to sign the order to suspend flights with Great Britain.”
⚠️ Blocco voli Regno Unito ⚠️
Si comunica che per effetto dell’ordinanza del Ministero della Salute, firmata in data odierna e valida da oggi fino al 6 gennaio 2021, i voli da e per la Gran Bretagna e l’Irlanda del Nord sono annullati: https://t.co/2SDbeYWr76
— Aeroporti di Roma (@AeroportidiRoma) December 20, 2020
Belgium also announced a ban on flights for 24 hours, which looks set to be extended.
Several other EU countries including Sweden, France and Germany announced travel bans later on Sunday.
— Emma Löfgren (@ekjlofgren) December 20, 2020
France announced a ban on travel from the UK, including by road and rail, for at least the next 48 hours.
To give an idea of the time span of UK travel bans:
?? Belgium: at least 24 hours
?? Ireland and ?? France: at least 48 hours
?? Germany and ?? Bulgaria: until Dec 31
?? the Netherlands: until Jan 1
?? Italy: until Jan 6
— Jessica Phelan (@JessicaLPhelan) December 20, 2020
The new variant of the virus is believed to have first appeared in the London and Kent areas in September, and is reported to be up to 70 percent more contagious than other strains.
The World Health Organization said that nine cases have been detected in Denmark and one each in the Netherlands and Australia.
A new strain has also been identified in South Africa.
The variant was cited by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson as the reason behind last-minute changes to health restrictions in London and South East England, announced on Saturday, which have seen thousands of people unable to travel as planned over Christmas.
The new coronavirus variant is spreading more rapidly than the original version, but it is not believed to be more deadly, the BBC reports.
The same mutation of the Covid-19 virus has also been detected in the Netherlands, Denmark and Australia, the WHO told the BBC.
There is no evidence to suggest the new variant reacts differently to vaccines.
London and many parts of south-east England have been placed under further restrictions in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.
All travellers arriving in Italy had already been subject to mandatory quarantine from December 21st.
Travellers from the UK also already faced the possibility of a ban on non-essential travel from January 1st, when the UK will be outside the EU and therefore covered by the closure of the Bloc's external borders, which has been in place since March.