European shares fell in their worst session in almost two months as the rapid spread of a new strain of the coronavirus forced more stringent curbs in Britain and travel bans from several countries, while a Brexit trade deal still hung in the balance.

London's FTSE closed down 1.6%, while the domestically focused FTSE 250 fell 2% as the latest development in the pandemic added to investors' worries, with no Brexit trade deal in sight and just 10 days to go until a transition period expires.

The Dublin market had slumped 2.4% in the afternoon before recovering and closing down 1.6%, with shares in Ryanair down 4.7%.

Markets in Paris and Frankfurt were down 2.4% and 2.8% respectively.

Canada as well as European neighbours, including Ireland, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, ordered a suspension of flights from Britain, while France's ban also included freight carriers, whether by road, air, sea or rail. 

Travel and leisure stocks, including British Airways-owner IAG, easyJet and Inter Continental Hotels Group, shed between 1% and 8% after countries cut transport ties with Britain.

Oil majors also saw big losses in Europe as new restriction spurred worries about a hit to demand and weighed on crude prices. 

Meanwhile, US stocks were all down on Wall Street today as a new strain of the coronavirus in Britain raised fears of further economic disruptions.