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Brits in the Party Playground of Dubai Forced into Quarantine After Surge in COVID-19 Cases

Brits in the Party Playground of Dubai Forced into Quarantine After Surge in COVID-19 Cases

The British government has removed the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from its list of quarantine-free travel corridors and the announcement was made just hours before Brits returning from Dubai, Abu Dhabi and elsewhere in the UAE will be forced to self-isolate for 10-days. The urgent move came after “a significant acceleration in the number of imported cases” from the country the government said in a statement on Monday night.

Traditionally, transport minister Grant Shapps has announced changes to the travel corridor list on Thursday’s and travellers coming from a country removed from the list have been given at least 48-hours to return home. In this case, Shapps said the situation was so critical that the quarantine rules would take affect at 4 am on Tuesday morning.

As well as fears that Brits had been responsible for importing COVID-19 from the UAE, the government said it made its decision after the number of new cases reported by health officials in the country surged by over 50 per cent in just a week. On Monday, the UAE’s Ministry of Health and Prevention reported 2,404 new coronavirus cases but just three deaths.

Dubai has proved a party playground for Brits seeking sun and respite from tough COVID-19 restrictions at home in recent months. Demand for flights to Dubai had become so great that Emirates has been operating four Airbus A380 flights in addition to a fifth Boeing 777 operated flight between Dubai and London Heathrow every day.

The Dubai-based airline has also been operating A380 services to Manchester six times per week and has ramped up its presence in Birmingham and Glasgow. In fact, the UK has become such an important market for Emirates that it even decided to debut its brand new Premium Economy cabin on flights to and from London Heathrow even after England entered its third national lockdown on January 6.

The British government has been under pressure to act after rising levels of anger directed at social media stars and influencers who have allegedly flouted lockdown rules to holiday in Dubai. International travel is only permitted for essential activities such as work and returnees will soon need to present a negative COVID-19 test certificate in addition to completing a period of self-isolation.

A national lockdown, however, hasn’t deterred some holidaymakers who flouted ‘stay at home’ rules for the lure of Dubai’s near-guaranteed sun. Shapps took to Twitter on Monday to chastise Brits who jetted away on holiday in recent days telling them: “Ignoring the rules costs lives. Inconsiderate and selfish behaviour puts others at risk & is unfair to those following the rules to beat the virus. Stay at home. Save lives”

Any returnees from the UAE who arrived after 4 am on Tuesday will need to quarantine for 10-days. This self-isolation period can be reduced to between five and six days by taking a COVID-19 test on day five of quarantine. Fines for lockdown rule breaches are as high as £6,400 in some cases.

The UAE is made up of seven semi-autonomous emirates and Dubai has been particularly aggressive in restarting its tourism industry. In July 2020, Dubai became one of the first territories to reopen to tourists from around the world with receipt of a negative COVID-19 test.

Over Christmas and New Years, Emirates warned travellers to arrive early at Dubai International Airport because of anticipated crowds. Over 70,000 passengers were expected to pass through the airport on January 2nd and 3rd and videos of crowded scenes in the airport just before New Year went viral.

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