In recent weeks, Dubai has see a rise in holidaymakers from the UK. With no restrictions other than showing a negative Covid-19 test, the country took the opportunity to lure in visitors who may have otherwise gone to Spain.
But that lucky streak may be scuppered as Scotland has removed this member of the United Arab Emirates from its ‘safe travel’ list. The Scottish government has blamed the rise in returning passengers testing positive with Covid-19.
It’s unclear if England will follow suit. The UAE has enjoyed “safe travel” status since mid-November, but Dubai has seen a sharp rise in the number of Covid infections since the New Year. The numbers are low when compared to the UK, nevertheless, they rose from 1963 new reported cases on January 2 to 2,998 on January 9.
England’s national lockdown includes a ban on international leisure travel. Yet agents are reporting that some clients are still going ahead with pre-booked holidays to destinations, including Dubai, even though they have been offered the opportunity to change their holiday dates without incurring a charge.
The worry is that these travellers risk becoming stranded abroad if flights are cancelled at short notice.
The move by the Scottish Government to introduce a mandatory 10-day quarantine for people returning from Dubai from 4am January 11, a move supported by the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA), who say the decision as ‘understandable’.
Anyone who has travelled to Scotland from Dubai since January 3 are also being asked to isolate for 10 days from the day they arrived back in the country.
The Scottish Government said
“This preventative action addresses the significant rise in cases of coronavirus (COVID-19), and the increase in the numbers of cases testing positive in Scotland.
“Guidance remains clear that people should not be undertaking foreign travel other than in exceptional circumstances.
SPAA president Joanne Dooey said:
Removing Dubai from the safe list is understandable. We believe that there has been a cluster of infections around Scots who travelled to Dubai over the Christmas and New Year period.
“There’s also the news today that one footballer returning from there has also tested positive.
The Celtic player (who hasn’t been named) had been taking part in a team training camp in Dubai.
Scotland’s Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said:
It is evident, both in Scotland and in countries across the world, that the virus continues to pose real risks to health and to life and we need to interrupt the rise in cases.
“Imposing quarantine requirements on those arriving in the UK is our first defence in managing the risk of imported cases from communities with high risks of transmission. That is why we have made the decision to remove Dubai from the country exemptions list.
“Whether or not an overseas destination has been designated for quarantine restrictions, our message remains clear that people should not currently be undertaking non-essential foreign travel. People need to stay at home to help suppress the virus, protect our NHS and save lives.
Flouting the rule to quarantine could result in a fine of more than £480.
Earlier this week the UK Government announced plans to introduce mandatory Covid testing for all arrivals.