New Covid strain UK lockdown: What does this mean for UAE travellers?

Dubai - Authorities have asked British nationals to avoid all kinds of non-essential travel.

by Dhanusha Gokulan

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Published: Tue 22 Dec 2020, 6:19 AM

British expats planning holiday travel now facing uncerainty as several countries are fast closing its borders to travellers from the UK. While the UAE is yet to make a formal announcement about travel caps to and from the UK, GCC nations, including Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Kuwait, have closed their borders as of Monday (December 21).

What is UAE’s response to the situation?

The UAE Embassy in London issued an advisory to UAE citizens on Monday, calling on all Emiratis to follow the precautionary measures issued by the British government. The mission has also called on UAE citizens in the United Kingdom to register for the ‘Tawajudi’ or ‘My Presence’ service.

Furthermore, Emirates airline flights to the UK from the UAE are running as scheduled. The air corridor between the UAE and UK, which allows passengers to not undergo quarantine on landing, also remains in place at the time of writing this article.

Also read: Countries that have banned flights, closed borders

What does Tier4 lockdown mean for UK citizens who want to travel to UAE?

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced tough new measures on Sunday to contain a mutated strain of Covid-19 that has sent infection rates soaring in the UK. Tier 4 restrictions were announced in London and south-East England.

Authorities have asked British nationals to avoid all kinds of non-essential travel. However, UAE-based expatriates who have already travelled back home, UK citizens currently visiting the UAE, and those planning festive season trips are all in a state of flux.

Kieran OC, a British citizen, told Khaleej Times: “Times are very stressful and difficult here in the UK. I am currently in a 'Tier 2' location, which is okay for international travel unless the UK government states otherwise.”

He added: “My plans were to fly to Dubai on the evening of December 26 until January 2. I have a Covid-19 PCR test booked for Wednesday, December 23, which costs £150 (not cheap) with a certificate deemed fit to fly and 48-hour guaranteed turnaround results. It all seems to be a waiting game over here at the moment.”

Most airlines operating between this sector are offering generous re-booking options. For example, Emirates Airlines allows passengers to use their tickets 24 months from the date of the original booking.

What does the lockdown mean for UK residents currently in UAE?

Governments of both countries have advised against non-essential travel. However, a British citizen who is presently in the UAE told Khaleej Times said he feels safer here than back home.

Author and political commentator Saurav Dutta, who is presently in Dubai for official work, told Khaleej Times: “I have several concerns at the moment. Being able to get a flight to Heathrow is one thing, but then I live in Warwick which is a Tier 3 territory; so that means arriving in Tier 4 to then go to Tier 3 which is currently not allowed. While I have family property in London, the fact that I've come from abroad may have problems.” He added: “Overall, it means that I may have to stay longer in Dubai over Christmas.”

However, he added that he feels safer here in the UAE than the UK, given the current situation. “Dubai and the Gulf, in general, have looked at cleanliness, hygiene and decontaminating public areas with a far more serious eye, and are not afraid of having a legal and police presence on the streets to ensure visitors/locals adhere to the law,” he said.

He pointed out: “The UK situation is completely haphazard, devoid of logic, intelligence, and care towards its citizens. Even the signs of scores of public citizens at train stations rushing to make last-minute journeys boggle the mind. There seems to be no respect for the law, health, and treatment towards others, and the government is being completely reactive instead of active to deal with the pandemic.”

What to keep in mind while travelling to the UK?

According to government rules for those living in a Tier 4 area, individuals are not allowed to leave or be outside of the place they are living at — unless they have a reasonable excuse.

They cannot meet other people indoors, including over the Christmas period, unless they live with them, or they are part of one’s support bubble. Outdoors, they are only permitted to meet one person from another household.

What to keep in mind if you are returning to the UAE?

Dubai residence holders should take pre-travel approvals from the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs. Visa holders from other Emirates should get their pre-travel Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) through Travellers going to Abu Dhabi have to quarantine for two weeks. Passengers are advised to take pre-travel Covid-19 tests.

When does the Tier4 lockdown end?

Until further notice, the lockdown is till December 30.

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Dhanusha Gokulan
Dhanusha Gokulan

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