Saudi Arabia added to UK safe travel corridor

Spain’s Canary Islands are removed from list

FILE PHOTO: Passengers arrive at Heathrow Airport, as Britain launches its 14-day quarantine for international arrivals, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), London, Britain, June 8, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo
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Saudi Arabia has been added to the list of safe travel countries for the UK, meaning visitors will no longer have to be isolated on arrival.

Botswana also joins the relatively short list of countries in the safe-travel corridor, while Spain’s Canary Islands are removed, delivering another blow to the UK’s tourist industry.

The new orders for Saudi Arabia and Botswana mean that from 4am on Saturday visitors will not have to isolate themselves.

But the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office warned that travellers would still have to be isolated if their travel included countries outside the safe corridor.

They must also fill out forms telling where they plan to stay while in the UK.

The news will be a boon for Saudi Arabia, which is opening up to tourists as part of its Vision 2030 plan.

The UAE has been on the UK’s safe travel list since November 14.


People due to fly in from Spain’s Canary Islands were warned of the new isolation rules.

The decision is a blow to the travel industry in both countries, where airlines and hoteliers hoped winter flights to the sun from the UK could help them to recover from losses during the pandemic.

"Data indicates weekly cases and positive tests are increasing in the Canary Islands and so we are removing them from the travel corridor list to reduce the risk of importing Covid-19," Transport Secretary Grant Shapps wrote on Twitter.

"From 4am on Saturday, December 12, if you arrive from these islands you will need to self-isolate."

The Canaries are one of the most popular regions for British holiday-makers.

The UK government is also starting a test and release programme next week, where travellers arriving in England can reduce their quarantine to five days if they pay for a Covid test that comes back negative.

The tests will cost between £65 and £120 and will begin on December 15. It will be open to people not in the safe travel corridor.

The UAE's addition to the safe list was regarded as a benefit for business and holiday travellers.

More than 5,000 British businesses have bases in the UAE and 120,000 British citizens live there, the British Business Group in Dubai says.

About 1.5 million Britons visit the country from the UK every year.

The UAE is the UK’s fifth largest export market outside Europe, after the US, Japan, China and Hong Kong.