Following the announcement of revised travel guidelines by Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport, the UAE was finally removed from the UK’s travel Red List after 188 days of uncertainty.
“The United Arab Emirates, Qatar, India, and Bahrain will be removed from the Red List and placed on the Amber List. All adjustments take effect at 4 a.m. on August 8th,” he tweeted.
“While we must maintain our careful approach, it is exciting to be able to expand the number of locations available to people who wish to connect with their families, friends, and enterprises throughout the world, owing to our successful domestic immunization program.”
The move puts an end to the costly and controversial requirements that forced anyone traveling in the UK from a red list nation to book a 10-day stay in a Managed Quarantine Facility. In the five months after the system was implemented, almost 100,000 passengers have passed through hotel quarantine in England.
Instead, travelers from countries on the amber list, such as the United Arab Emirates, and those who are not completely vaccinated must self-isolate for 10 days.
If they have one of four approved vaccines, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, or the Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine, all fully vaccinated travelers from the United States and the European Union can avoid isolation upon arrival in the United Kingdom. It was unclear when fully immunized UAE visitors would be eligible for this exemption.
Those who have not been vaccinated or who have received doses of vaccinations from other manufacturers (such as Sinopharm) must instead self-isolate for 10 days, which can be done at home, with friends, or in a hotel. That period can be shortened if they pay for an extra test on day five.
The revisions will first apply exclusively to England, however other parts of the UK are anticipated to follow suit.
Karen Dee, CEO of the Airport Operators Association, said the adjustments were positive, but that more work was needed.
“We are still a long way from a complete and meaningful restart of international travel,” Dee said in a statement. “The government must recognize this and provide the support that will protect our world-class aviation industry and the thousands of jobs that are still at risk.”
“The opening of routes into the Middle East is of special importance for business travel,” said Clive Wratten, CEO of the Business Travel Association (BTA). It may take some time for business travel to resume on a large scale, but this allows our sector to once again contribute to UK GDP and our country’s worldwide trading reputation.”
The news came as new statistics revealed that the Middle East’s aviation sector is still suffering, with a newly released study from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) confirming that 2020 was the industry’s worst year on record.
The IATA World Air Transport Statistics (WATS) report presented performance numbers for 2020, illustrating the disastrous effects of the Covid-19 crisis on global air transport during that year.