Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 August 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus: the UAE families going ahead with summer holiday plans during pandemic

Travellers feel confident but said planning a trip was more difficult

Laura Charlesworth and her family went ahead with their trip to the UK from Dubai. Courtesy: Laura Charlesworth
Laura Charlesworth and her family went ahead with their trip to the UK from Dubai. Courtesy: Laura Charlesworth

Latest: UAE travel advice - airline flights and testing for residents and tourists explained

Families who are planning to travel abroad this summer insisted they had weighed up the pros and cons before booking flights.

As more commercial routes opened up this month, UAE residents said they felt more confident to visit friends and loved ones, even though a 14-day quarantine is in force in some countries.

Holidaymakers said the “ever-changing updates” related to Covid-19 made planning a trip more difficult.

Laura Charlesworth, 37, wavered over the decision to return home but decided to go.

“We landed in the UK on Saturday morning,” said the mother-of-one, who is pregnant.

We weighed up the risks of leaving but felt it was important for our physical and mental health to try and get back to the UK

Laura Charlesworth

“We didn’t have to complete any laborious forms other than the UK government declaration, with details of where we’re staying while here.

“My husband and I are both teachers and we’ll be in the UK until August 19, so fortunately for us the mandatory two week quarantine on arrival wasn’t an issue."

Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office said all travellers entering the UK from the UAE need to provide their journey and contact details up to 48 hours before travel.

All passengers have to self-isolate in their home or accommodation for the first 14 days.

“We have followed the situation closely and weighed up the risks of leaving, but felt it was important for our physical and mental health to try and get back to the UK,” Ms Charlesworth said.

“As things are changing so much, we really haven’t been too worried about getting stuck here.

“If that happens we’ll deal with it as and when but there’s no point worrying about what hasn’t happened yet."

She said they were lucky to be in a position where they could work remotely if it came to that.

Another teacher based in Abu Dhabi, who asked not to be named, said he was travelling to the UK on Monday for two weeks.

Usually, his family would stay in the UK for the full summer but his plans were cut short this year due to the pandemic.

“My family and I went and got tested on Saturday and it came back negative, which was a relief,” he said.

“To leave the UAE we haven’t had to change anything specific with our plans, we just did the test. But we have to self-isolate when we get to the UK.

“We have a family home in the UK and we’re happy to spend two weeks chilling out there.

“The rules to return are still a bit of an unknown but we will seek whatever approval and also get tested regardless.”

Travel restrictions have eased but all residents returning to the UAE - except those from Dubai - have to be tested before boarding a flight.

Residents landing in Dubai are tested once they arrive and must isolate until they get their results.

Residents landing anywhere else in the Emirates must quarantine for 14 days regardless of any test.

On their return, travellers must take another coronavirus test and isolate themselves for two weeks.

Rami Al Hashemi, a property consultant in Dubai, said he wanted to travel home to Lebanon but was still undecided.

“I was thinking to go to Lebanon but I'm not sure now because the situation there is not great,” he said.

“If not, I might go to Georgia or Kyrgyzstan for an Eid vacation, whatever works so I can just get away.

“I will just choose a country which has fewer restrictions and more freedom to get in and out, without too much hassle.”

While Emirates has resumed flights from Dubai to Beirut, he was unsure whether to travel there.

Mr Al Hashemi said he doesn’t mind all the new form-filling when entering or exiting a country, but was concerned about getting stuck overseas if local governments change their rules last minute.

“I will just play it by ear and choose a destination that has low prevalence and is accepting visitors,” he said.

Updated: July 7, 2020 03:27 PM

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