Iran extends ban on UK flights as new coronavirus variant spreads

January 9, 2021 - 20:10

TEHRAN – Iran has extended the previously-imposed ban on flights to and from the United Kingdom, adding the ban also entails connecting flights at the European country that has become a hotspot for a new coronavirus variant.

Iran's Civil Aviation Organization announced to all domestic and foreign airlines and ticket sales offices that Tehran-London ticket sales, both direct and indirect, are prohibited to prevent the spread of the ‘British’ variant, Mehr reported on Saturday.

Last month, the Islamic Republic halted flights to and from the United Kingdom, preliminary for two weeks at the discretion of the Health Ministry to prevent the transmission of the disease and to try to maintain public health.

The new coronavirus variant, which prompted the UK government to impose a Tier 4 lockdown in London and southeastern England, and tighten restrictions for all of England over the festive period, is "out of control," Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Sunday — the same day that the UK broke its daily coronavirus case record, recording 35,928 new cases.

The ensuing wave of travel bans has also cut off UK travelers from much of Europe and other parts of the world. Some experts believe that there was no evidence the new variant was more deadly or would react differently to vaccines, but it was proving to be up to 70% more transmissible.