Turkish Airlines refutes reports of 7 European countries barring Turkish passengers

Turkish Airlines (THY) has denied media reports that seven European countries have closed their borders to Turkish passengers amid a surge of COVID-19 Omicron cases. The reports were based on a travel guidance table from Turkey's Civil Aviation Authority (SHGM) which has been updated to remove references to such bans.

Duvar English - Reuters 

Reports said on Dec. 30 that seven European nations, including the Netherlands, Italy and Spain, have barred Turkish passengers from entering their countries amid a surge of the Omicron variant, citing travel guidance by Turkey's Civil Aviation Authority (SHGM).

The SHGM's COVID-19 travel guidance, last updated on Dec. 28, said the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Luxembourg, Croatia, Iceland and Switzerland would no longer accept Turkish passengers. It said Turkish passengers would need to show proof of vaccination when entering Portugal or Sweden.

Later on in the day, the travel guidance was updated to remove references to these bans. 

Turkish Airlines CEO Bilal Ekşi also refuted the reports on Dec. 30, saying on Twitter that no such ban has been yet implemented by any country. 

Daily coronavirus cases in Turkey have reached their highest level since April this week, surging to nearly 37,000, but the number is still significantly below figures reported in parts of Europe.

The Netherlands announced a snap COVID-19 Christmas lockdown earlier this month, which will be reviewed on Jan. 14. Other countries have seen a record number of coronavirus cases in recent weeks, working to balance restrictions while keeping economies running.

Turkey has said it was not considering new restrictions for the moment, instead urging citizens to ramp up personal measures and get vaccinated. Ankara launched a nationwide rollout of its domestic COVID-19 vaccine, Turkovac, on Dec. 30.