Coronavirus Pandemic

Covid-19: UK bans travel to UAE, Burundi, Rwanda

Anjana Sankar /Abu Dhabi Filed on January 28, 2021 | Last updated on January 28, 2021 at 11.28 pm

The move is expected to upset travel plans of many, including British expats.

A travel ban will be in place between the UAE and the UK, the British Embassy in the UAE has said. The suspension takes effect from 1pm UK time on January 29.

“You will not be able to fly directly to the UK from the UAE after this time,” the embassy tweeted on Thursday.

Britain’s Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the UAE has been added to the government’s travel alert list along with Burundi and Rwanda.

Non-citizens will be barred from travelling to the UK from the UAE, and British citizens will have to undergo a 10-day quarantine. Any exemptions usually in place will not apply, including for business travel, announced the UK that is reeling under a massive spike in coronavirus cases.

The decision to ban travel from these destinations follows the discovery of a new coronavirus variant first identified in South Africa, that may have spread to other countries, including Burundi and Rwanda, said a government spokesperson.

From 1pm on January 29, passengers who have been in or transited through the UAE, Burundi and Rwanda 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. They will be able to enter the UK but are required to self-isolate for 10 days at home, or in a hotel. They will not be eligible to use “Test to Release’ that allows people to use a negative Covid test result to release themselves from quarantine protocol.

The embassy has advised British nationals currently in the UAE to make use of indirect flights if they wish to return to the UK.

The UAE is home to more than 240,000 British nationals. Etihad is currently operating three flights daily between Heathrow and Abu Dhabi.

Emirates currently operates 36 flights per week from the UK to Dubai — three daily from London Heathrow, one daily from Manchester, four weekly from Glasgow and four weekly from Birmingham.

The move is expected to upset travel plans of many, including British expats, who are hoping to fly from or via the UAE.

The emergence of the more deadly and contagious variant of the Covid virus in South Africa has spread to countries like the US. Even when many countries around the world are launching a mass inoculation drive to fight the coronavirus, there are concerns whether the vaccines will be effective against the new strain that originated in South Africa.

The variant known as B. 1.351 that caused a massive wave of infections in South Africa is believed to be 50 per cent more contagious.

British citizens who require assistance can call the mission at +971 4 309 4444 or +971 2 610 1100 24/7, said the embassy.


Anjana Sankar

Anjana Sankar is a UAE-based journalist chasing global stories of conflict, migration and human rights. She has reported from the frontlines of the wars in Yemen and Syria and has extensively written on the refugee crisis in Bangladesh, Iraq and Europe. From interviewing Daesh militants to embedding with the UAE army in Yemen, and covering earthquakes, floods, terrorist attacks and elections, she has come out scathe-free from the most dangerous conflict zones of the world. Riding on over 14 years of experience, Anjana currently is an Assistant Editor with Khaleej Times and leads the reporting team. She often speaks about women empowerment on her Facebook page that has 40,000 plus followers.

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