Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 20 September 2020

Fears UAE will be missed off Britain's safe air corridor list

UK expected to name up to 40 countries for which quarantine restrictions will be eased

The UK is due to ease travel restrictions for some countries.
The UK is due to ease travel restrictions for some countries.

Britain is expected to unveil dozens of destinations in its new safe travel corridor system but there are fears the UAE will be left off the list.

Under its new coronavirus traffic light system, the UK will be scrapping its compulsory 14-day quarantine rules for travellers returning from certain destinations.

Exempt countries are expected to include France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Denmark but so far the UAE has not been mentioned. More than 1.5 million Britons travel to the UAE each year.

Because of its popularity as a winter destination the Emirates could be kept off the list for now despite its lower number of coronavirus cases and strict protocols.

Dubai has announced plans to reopen to tourists from July 7, with travellers expected to take a Covid-19 test on arrival, register their details and agree to bear all costs of quarantine or treatment should they fall ill.

The UK is expected to publish the full list of countries that will be exempt from the quarantine rules in the next few days.

The British Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, said restrictions will be eased in areas where the public health risk is no longer “unacceptably high”.

The air corridor list has been compiled by the government’s Joint Biosecurity Centre and Public Health England and will be ranking countries as green, amber or red based on their coronavirus risk.

“It is encouraging that the government has concluded its first review of its public health measures at the border and that passengers arriving from certain destinations will not be required to quarantine,” a representative for ABTA, the UK travel trade association, told The National.

“Confirmation of the list of countries is eagerly anticipated by the travel industry and should encourage customers to book. The blanket Foreign Office advice against all but essential travel is still a major impediment to travel, however, and we look forward to the Government adopting a similarly risk-based approach to that advice.”

One country expected to miss out on the exemption is Portugal after it recently experienced a spike in cases.

The UK had introduced its quarantine policy three weeks ago but it has been met with furore from the travel industry, which has lost billions in the pandemic because of the grounding of flights and closing of hotels after coronavirus restrictions were brought in.

Under the new traffic light system people arriving from “red countries”, which are expected to include the United States and Brazil, will have to undergo rigorous testing.

On Friday, the UK’s largest tour operator, Tui, cancelled all flights to Florida from Britain after Disney announced that it was delaying the opening of its theme parks.

Presently Britain’s Foreign Office is still advising UK citizens against all but essential international travel.

Paul Charles, of the campaign group Quash Quarantine, said up to 40 countries could be placed on the list.

“We welcome the decision to open up tourism ahead of the summer but we still need urgent visibility on the exact countries that will be included in the traffic light system,” he told the Financial Times.

“The travel sector is desperately trying to plan for the summer in order to protect as many tourism jobs as possible and we need a detailed road map on how these corridors will open up.”

It is expected that countries given the green light will see restrictions lifted from July 6.

However, the government has warned the measures could be reinstated if countries see further spikes of the virus.

“We will not hesitate to put on the brakes if any risks re-emerge in the UK or within those countries we deem to be on our Covid travel list,” a government official added.

Updated: June 29, 2020 07:49 PM

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