Of the four countries that comprise the United Kingdom, three – England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland – are removing the United Arab Emirates from their travel corridors list effective January 12th. This means travelers from cities like Dubai will be required to self-isolate for 10 days upon landing. At this time, Wales has decided to leave the UAE on its exempt-from-quarantine list, while Scotland is removing Dubai but not other Emirates.
The complicated situation
With the change announced as early as January 10th and as late as January 11th, arrivals from the UAE are no longer exempt from quarantine-upon-arrival and must self-isolate for 10 days starting today – or yesterday for arrivals to Scotland from Dubai.
This is the position of each country in the UK at the time of publication:
England: “United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Sharjah, Umm Al-Quwain and Ras Al Khaimah) was removed from the exempt list at 4am Tuesday 12 January.”
Scotland: “United Arab Emirates, [are exempt from self-isolation] except Dubai (arrivals from Dubai will be required to self-isolate on arrival from 04:00 Monday 11 January 2021. Those passengers that have traveled back to Scotland from Dubai since 3 January 2021 are also being asked to isolate for 10 days, from the date they arrived back in the country)”
Northern Ireland: “Arrivals on or after 4.00 am on 12 January 2021″ from the UAE are required to self-isolate.
Wales: The UAE, without exception, is exempt from quarantine as it remains on the travel corridor list.
It should be made clear that this also applies to travelers making a transit stop in Dubai (or the other Emirates as applicable.)
The UK government defines a transit stop as:
“A stop where passengers can get on or off. It can apply to coaches, ferries, trains or flights.
Further elaborating, if a journey involves a transit stop in a country, territory or region not on the travel corridor list, travelers will need to self-isolate if:
- new passengers get on
- you or other passengers get off the transport you are on and mix with other people, then get on again
Travelers don’t need to self-isolate beyond normal timescales if, during the transit stop in a non-exempt country, territory, or region:
- no new passengers get on
- no-one on-board gets off and mixes with people outside
- passengers get off but do not get back on
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Scotland’s stance stands out as the most interesting of the four UK countries. Of the seven states (Emirates) that comprise the UAE, all remain on the travel corridor list except for Dubai. Dubai was removed from the travel corridor list as of 04:00 Monday, January 11th, 2021.
In reality, this policy won’t have much effect on the average traveler as there are very few direct commercial flights operating between Scotland and the UAE at the moment. The only direct service currently operating is with Emirates airlines between Dubai and Glasgow. This policy would, however, allow travelers from Abu Dhabi heading to Scotland via London exemption from self-isolation as well.
Test to release scheme
Arrivals to England will have access to a Test to Release for International Travel scheme.
Under this scheme, travelers can choose to pay for a private COVID-19 test. If the result is negative, they can stop self-isolating. The earliest a traveler can take the test is five full days after they’ve departed a place, not on the travel corridor list.
The scheme only applies to those self-isolating in England and is not offered in the other countries of the UK. In fact, The Welsh COVID-19 website makes it clear that negative tests taken in England do not reduce the period of isolation required in Wales.
Will this change affect you? Share your story in the comments.