Russia extends ban on UK flights by a month over coronavirus variant

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia has extended a ban on flights to and from Britain by one month up to April 16 due to a variant of the coronavirus first detected in the UK, Russia's coronavirus task force said on Tuesday.

Russia, which has had the flight ban in place since Dec. 22, reported 28 cases of the more infectious coronavirus variant on Tuesday, consumer health regulator Rospotrebnadzor said.

"To ensure the protection of public health, the restrictions have been extended until 2359 (2059 GMT) on April 16, 2021," the coronavirus task force said in a statement.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier on Tuesday that the situation with COVID-19 was more tense in Europe than in Russia.

"In Europe the situation is unstable, we have a more optimistic picture, which however does not give us the chance to relax," Peskov told reporters on a conference call.

Shop closures, curfews and bans on non-essential travel are in place in many European countries, whereas Russia has lifted most of its coronavirus restrictions.

Wearing masks is required in public indoor spaces in some parts of the country, but some regions have cancelled the bulk of COVID-19 restrictions.

(Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov and Dmitry Antonov; Writing by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Peter Graff)