London lockdown: what it means for travel to and from the UAE

The UK imposes new restrictions on the English capital – here is how it will affect international travel

The UK introduced tough new measures from Sunday to contain a mutated strain of Covid-19 that has sent infection rates soaring.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced severe Tier 4 restrictions for London and south-east England.

Authorities in the UK advise against all travel for non-essential purposes into Tier 4 areas. The new strain is said to be 70 per cent more contagious and the Netherlands banned flights carrying passengers from the UK because of it.

Thre is no suggestion the new strain is deadlier or resistant to the vaccine.

What is Tier 4 and what does it mean?

Tier 4 is the strictest level of four tiers used by the UK to measure the Covid-19 threat. Non-essential shops, leisure and entertainment venues must shut. Households cannot mix but one person can meet one other person outside in public.

Tier 4 residents cannot stay overnight away from home and are prohibited from going abroad except in limited circumstances, such as for work or medical care. Travel for leisure is not allowed. Everyone is urged to stay home.

What about the rest of the UK?

Strict measures are in place. If your relatives live in a Tier 4 area you cannot meet them.

Wales is under another lockdown from midnight, while in Scotland indoor mixing in a bubble will be allowed on Christmas Day only, before the nation returns to lockdown on Boxing Day.

What does it mean for UAE residents who want to travel to London?

British authorities advise against all non-essential travel. But Emirates airline flights to the UK from the UAE are running as scheduled and the air corridor between the UAE and UK – which negates the need for quarantine on landing – remains in place.

An Emirates spokeswoman said flights to and from the UK are full. Passengers considering cancelling or moving their flights can find out the latest refund information here. Details on Etihad Airways' policy can be found here.

Public transport is operating in London, while National Express coach services are running limited schedules for those who need to travel internally.

People are urged to contact their travel operator or airline before departing but to travel only if it is absolutely necessary and not linked to leisure. If you have booked a ticket, many airlines offer generous rebooking options. Emirates airline, for example, allows people to use their ticket for 24 months from the date of an original booking.

What does it mean for UAE residents in the UK?

The main airports in Tier 4 – Heathrow, Luton and London City – are open. People outside Tier 4 can still transit through the Tier 4 region to the airports if they need to travel for essential purposes. Some companies are supplying letters to their staff. But everyone is urged to consider whether they need to travel. The other London airports – Gatwick and Stansted – are in Tier 2.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 11: An Emirates Airbus A380 aircraft at Heathrow Airport on October 11, 2016 in London, England. The UK government has said it will announce a decision on airport expansion soon. Proposals include either a third runway at Heathrow, an extension of a runway at the airport or a new runway at Gatwick Airport. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***  bz10no-emirates-group.jpg

If I have to travel to London, what other rules are in place?

Everyone must complete an online passenger locator form before arrival in the UK. People must wear a mask on public transport. It is also a requirement for some passengers to self-isolate for 10 days after arriving, but not if you are flying from the UAE.

If I'm travelling back to the UAE, what Covid-19 rules must one follow?

If you hold a Dubai residence visa and you are flying back to Dubai, you should have return approval from the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs. This applies only to Dubai visas.

If you hold a visa from any other emirate outside Dubai, you must obtain entry permission from the Federal Authority For Identity And Citizenship through uaeentry.ica.gov.ae. Anyone coming to Abu Dhabi must quarantine for two weeks.

There are also frequently evolving rules on Covid-19 tests and people are advised to check with the airline before they travel.

When will the London restrictions end?

This has not been determined. But they will be reviewed on December 30.

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