Covid-19: UAE among countries added to UK’s travel ban list

The UAE, Burundi and Rwanda have been added to the “red list” of countries from where travel to the UK is banned.

The measure, aimed at stopping the spread of the South African variant, comes into force from 13:00 on Friday.

British, Irish and third country nationals with residence rights in the UK will be allowed to enter but must self-isolate for 10 days at home.

A number of social media influencers have visited Dubai in recent weeks despite the UK’s ban on leisure travel.

They have insisted their trips are for work purposes, but the Department for Transport said any travel exemptions usually in place will not apply, including for business travel.

There will also be a flight ban on direct passenger flights from the UAE.

The UAE was the most popular long-haul destination in November 2020, with 84,500 passengers travelling to and from the country, according to the Civil Aviation Authority. Other popular destinations were India (54,000), Qatar (38,000) and Vietnam (36,000).

The new additions to the UK’s “red list” means travel is now banned from 33 countries.

From 04:00 on Friday all arrivals who have in the 10 days before their arrival in the UK been in these countries will have to self-isolate immediately, along with their households, and will not be eligible to use test to release – where people can leave quarantine early with a negative test after five days.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said passengers allowed to enter the UK would need proof of a negative test and a completed passenger locator form before arrival, or could face two £500 fines.

British nationals currently in the UAE should make use of the commercial options available if they wish to return to the UK, the Department for Transport said.

Indirect commercial routes that will enable British and Irish nationals and residents to return to the UK continue to operate.

Dubai Airport said all direct flights due to arrive in the UK after 13:00 GMT on Friday had been suspended and it told passengers booked on those flights not to travel to the airport.

Etihad Airways also said all its passenger flights to the UK would be suspended from that time until further notice and it was working with affected customers to rearrange their travel plans.

It comes after the government announced a tightening of travel rules on Wednesday.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said that people wishing to travel out of the UK will first be required to declare their reason for travel and prove it is essential.

Police checks at home addresses will be increased to ensure arrivals are complying with self-isolation rules.

The home secretary criticised influencers for “showing off about which parts of the world they are in”, along with people who turned up at London’s St Pancras station with skis.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson also announced that UK nationals and residents returning from red list countries would be required to quarantine in government-provided hotels, though the policy has not yet been implemented.

On Thursday, a further 1,239 deaths in the UK within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test were recorded.