Travellers from the UAE faced quarantine on arrival in the UK from Tuesday after the British government changed its list of countries with a travel corridor that avoided post-flight isolation at home.
International travel for people in the UK is restricted but those already in the UAE had been able to avoid going into quarantine when arriving back in Britain – until the most recent edit of the list.
As infections rise rapidly in the UK, London has tightened its international travel regime. The rules were changed last week to include a PCR test before travel into the United Kingdom.
The UK's Transport Ministry said that from Tuesday, people travelling from the UAE would need to be isolated for 10 days, unless they have an exemption like diplomatic status.
Tier four restrictions were imposed across England last week as the country grappled with surging Covid-19 positive test rates. The country has been badly hit by the pandemic with registered 3.12 million cases and more than 82,000 deaths.
The tightest coronavirus rules Tier 4 enforces the closures of schools, non-essential shops, restaurants and sports facilities. People have been advised to only leave home for essential reasons and to only meet one other person in an outdoor space under social distancing.
Britain's Foreign Office also updated its travel advice. Passengers who are travelling from from the UAE will also have to present a negative Covid-19 test result taken up to three days before departing for Britain “to help protect against new strains of coronavirus circulating internationally", the ministry said.
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“The government has made it consistently clear that it will take decisive action if necessary to contain the virus, including if the public health risk of people returning from a particular country without self-isolating becomes too high.”
UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "Ignoring the rules costs lives. Inconsiderate and selfish behaviour puts others at risk and is unfair to those following the rules to beat the virus. Stay at home. Save lives.”
The infection rate rose in the UAE from about 1,000 a day in early January to more than 2,000 a day. But the Emirates last week become the world's second highest vaccinator, after Israel.
Many British travellers arrived in the UAE after the travel corridor opened weeks before Christmas. The rapidly spreading new coronavirus strain has been found to be 50-70 per cent more transmissible than previous dominant strains.
The list was last changed a week ago when a travel corridor with Israel was removed and travel was banned from countries bordering South Africa, which also has been the source of a separate highly infectious Covid-19 strain.
Those returning from Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Fujairah, Umm Al Quwain, Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah will be included in the quarantine.
The move came a day after Scotland introduced a similar restriction on people arriving from the UAE.
All passengers who have travelled to Scotland from Dubai since January 3 have also been asked to isolate.
There was also case of Covid-19 confirmed among Scotland's Celtic football club squad, two days after the team returned from a six-day training camp in Dubai last week.
More than 250,000 people in the UAE have been fully vaccinated against the virus, with the Pfizer-BioNTech inoculation joining the Sinopharm vaccine as the two shots used by health authorities.
That means about 2.5 per cent of the country's population has received both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine since the start of a major inoculation drive in mid-December, changing the calculus for the UK authorities.