The UK government has taken the urgent decision to ban travel to the UK from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to prevent the spread of the new variant originally identified in South Africa into the UK.
From 1 pm yesterday 29 January, passengers who had been in or transited through the United Arab Emirates in the last 10 days will no longer be granted access to the UK.
This does not include British and Irish nationals, or third-country nationals with residence rights in the UK, who will be able to enter the UK but are required to self-isolate for 10 days at home, along with their household. Passengers returning from these countries cannot be released from self-isolation through Test to Release.
There will also be a flight ban on direct passenger flights from the UAE.
The decision to ban travel from the UAE follows the discovery of a new coronavirus variant first identified in South Africa, that may have spread to other countries, including the UAE.
The UK has taken a divergent course to its COVID-19 response. But now, the island nation is drawing attention left and right, with a raft of new measures that purport to help stop the emergence of variants into the UK.
One such measure involves 10 days of enforced hotel quarantine, like what the arrivals into Australia and other APAC areas face (14 days), including bearing the brunt of the costs for the room. And yes, that is mandatory.
In a bald and quick move, the UK also added an overnight, outright ban on direct flights between the UK and the UAE, leaving thousands scrambling to find flights ‘home’ to the UK via random cities, and facing mysteries at the border.
Throughout the pandemic, airlines have looked for single opportunities given the lack of global reach. One such opportunities which did not even feel a scratch, with one airline alone sending up to 7 Airbus A380’s per day, between Dubai and London Heathrow Airport.
The route quickly became the busiest in the world, but a major move from the United Kingdom means it’s not operating, at all. No indication has been given as to when it will be reinstated.
It may be a possibility that the outright ban could be lifted in a matter of days, once hotel quarantine measures are more concrete, or that it could last until the end of the national lockdown currently imposed in the UK. Travel to other destinations remains on an essential basis only.