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EU executive calls on members to lift travel restrictions on UK

EU executive calls on members to lift travel restrictions on UK
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The executive branch of the European Union on Tuesday called on EU member countries to roll back coronavirus travel restrictions imposed on the U.K. in order to allow freight transportation to continue and let people return home for Christmas.

According to Reuters, the European Commission advised that while nonessential travel to and from the U.K. should be discouraged as the country battles its highest COVID-19 infection rates yet amid the transmission of a mutated variant of the virus, people should be allowed to return home so long as they take a COVID-19 test or quarantine for 10 days.

“Blanket travel bans should not prevent thousands of EU and UK citizens from returning to their homes,” European Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said in a statement, according to Reuters.

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Since news of the recent strain spreading across southern England broke, countries have halted trade and imposed restrictions on all or some travel from the U.K., including France, Ireland, Poland and Norway.

Reuters reported that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson worked to get French President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronFrench Open delayed due to coronavirus Will Ocasio-Cortez challenge Biden or Harris in 2024? WHO calls European vaccine campaigns 'unacceptably slow' MORE to lift a ban on freight from Britain, and has been trying for at least 24 hours to reach a deal with France to allow the Dover-Calais ferry route to reopen.

Johnson has warned that the new variant is up to 70 percent more contagious than other strains, but the estimate was based on projections and modeling only and has not been confirmed in a lab.

While it is up to each EU country how its own border controls are implemented, the European Commission’s recommendations aim to set common rules within the EU and the ambassadors will consider whether to adopt them Tuesday, Reuters reported.

This comes as Sky News reported Tuesday that the new strain of COVID-19 has now been detected in Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands and Gibraltar.

Officials in France and South Africa also reportedly believe that they have cases of the new strain as well, but have not yet confirmed them.

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Australian health officials said Monday that two people traveling from the U.K. had arrived in the country with the new strain of COVID-19, but it was not believed to be spreading locally.

Health experts believe that the new strain may be more infectious due to a higher viral load that makes transmission easier.

Detection of the strain in the U.K. forced Johnson to order a shutdown of Christmas shopping across Britain and order new restrictions on public life just days before the holiday.