Update: UK bans all passenger flights from the UAE, adds 3 countries to travel ban list

Jan 30, 2021

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with additional information. 

The U.K. has placed a new ban on all passenger flights from the UAE as of 1 p.m. on 29 January.

The flight ban marks a huge blow for Dubai-based Emirates and Abu Dhabi-based Etihad, which operate flights from around the world through their respective hubs and then on to final destinations, such as London. However, with this latest update, no passengers will be able to fly directly from the UAE to the U.K.

“Any exemptions usually in place will not apply, including for business travel,” the government said in its announcement. “British nationals currently in the UAE should make use of the commercial options available if they wish to return to the U.K. Indirect commercial routes that will enable British and Irish nationals and residents to return to the U.K. continue to operate.”

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Additionally, the U.K. has expanded the destinations in its travel ban. As of 1 p.m. on Friday 29 January, the U.K. has added the United Arab Emirates, Burundi and Rwanda to its “red list.”

This means that travellers who don’t have British or Irish nationality or residents rights in the UK and who travelled through one of the above countries in the past 10 days will not be able to enter the U.K.

Related: All of the countries on the UK’s travel ban list

The UAE travel ban leaves many British passengers stranded in the region as airlines suspend operations. Qatar Airways has put a halt to new bookings through 5 February, Emirates has suspended all U.K. passenger flights and Etihad Airways is suspending all flights to Britain, but not from.

According to Reuters, the Dubai airport is telling British passengers booked on flights bound for the U.K. “not to go to the airport and instead contact their airline,” while Britain’s transport department advised travelers stranded in the region to “use indirect commercial routes” to return home.

Those who are able to enter the U.K. must self-isolate at home for 10 days. Additionally, all members of their household must self-isolate for 10 days — even if they didn’t travel.

With the addition of the UAE, Burundi and Rwanda, there are now 33 countries on the travel ban list.

Travellers who are coming from a banned country will not be able to use England’s Test to Release scheme, which allows eligible travellers to test out of a full 10-day quarantine.

On Wednesday, the government announced its plans to require passengers coming from travel ban countries to undergo their 10-day quarantine in a government-supervised hotel. However, that policy is not yet in effect.

Related: Everything you need to know about the UK’s hotel quarantine policy

All passengers, regardless of where they are coming from are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result, taken no more than three days prior to scheduled departure. Additionally, all passengers must have completed a passenger locator form.

Related: Pre-departure testing and self-isolation for arrivals: Everything you need to know about travelling to the UK

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.

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