JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) — A batch of British and Irish golfers have withdrawn from the Joburg Open before Friday's second round after the U.K. government announced it was suspending flights from South Africa to counter the spread of a new COVID-19 variant.

The inaugural season of the DP World Tour started on Thursday but a tour spokesman confirmed more than a dozen players pulled out of the Joburg Open because of the new restrictions.

The U.K. announced it was suspending flights from South Africa and five other southern African countries and making travellers from this countries self-isolate for 10 days effective from 1200 GMT Friday.

The European Union plans to also stop flights.

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