Canada is halting passenger flights from the United Kingdom, according to a Transport Canada notice to pilots on Sunday, joining a growing list of countries barring British travelers to prevent the spread of a new coronavirus strain from the country.
The restrictions do not apply to cargo planes or planes landing for safety reasons, according to the notice to airmen, which said the move is "necessary for aviation safety and the protection of the public."
Canadian officials, including the prime minister and health minister, met on Sunday afternoon to discuss the new variant, which officials say is up to 70% more transmissible than the original, Health Minister Patty Hadju tweeted.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Saturday the new strain had led to surging infection numbers, as his government tightened its COVID-19 restrictions for London and nearby areas.
Cases continue to rise in Canada, which begun inoculations with the Pfizer vaccine earlier in the week. Canada reported a total of 507,795 cases of COVID-19, with 6,203 new cases on Sunday, and 14,228 deaths.
Canadian media reported Ontario, the country's most populous province, would be put in a province-wide lockdown on Dec. 24.