Simon Calder says current UK travel rules are a ‘mess’
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Dubai is a popular winter sun holiday hotspot, and as the weather begins to turn grey in the UK, many Britons might be hoping to jet off into warmer temperatures. However, travel rules remain both here in the UK and in the UAE. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) keeps its travel advice pages updated with the latest information for those currently overseas or planning an international trip.
Yet, with travel rules set to change once again from October 4, it’s important Britons fully understand the steps they must take to meet both UK and UAE regulations.
What are the latest travel rules for entering the UAE and Dubai?
According to the FCDO: “Residents, tourists and visitors travelling from or through the UK and arriving in Dubai and Abu Dhabi must have a negative COVID-19 PCR test before departure and present the certificate at check-in.”
These tests must be taken within the 72 hours prior to departure for arrivals into Dubai, and within the 48 hours prior to departure for those travelling to Abu Dhabi.
However, the FCDO warns travellers that these time limits could change “at short notice”.
It states: “COVID-19 entry requirements may change at short notice, and travellers to the UAE are strongly encouraged to check the specifics, including the time frames for undertaking COVID-19 PCR tests, before departure with their airline before they travel.”
Passengers are advised to check the details of their travel requirements with their airline before departure.
NHS testing services should not be used to facilitate travel.
Upon arrival in Dubai, travellers may be required to take a further COVID-19 PCR test and self-isolate pending the result.
Visitors to Dubai will also have to register their details on the COVID-19 DXB App.
Before visitors fly to Dubai, they will also be required to complete a Health Declaration Form and a Quarantine Form. Both forms need to be printed, completed and handed over to Dubai Health Authority staff on arrival.
In Abu Dhabi, all arrivals will be required to take a second PCR test upon arrival.
The FCDO explains: “Visitors must register via the ICA Smart Travel Service prior to travel and take a COVID-19 PCR test before they fly. Vaccination is not a condition of entry.
“Visitors will also need to take a PCR test upon arrival at Abu Dhabi International airport without the need to quarantine, and take further tests on days four and eight if staying in the emirate. Children under 12 years and individuals with official exemptions do not need to take a PCR test upon arrival.”
Vaccinated travellers arriving in Abu Dhabi from the UK do not face quarantine.
However, the travel authority adds: “If you test positive for COVID-19 on arrival, depending on your symptoms and your accommodation plans, you may be required to self-isolate in a government facility, a hospital, your hotel or privately arranged accommodation for at least 10 days.”
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What Covid restrictions are in place in the UAE and Dubai?
Covid restrictions remain in place across the UAE, though between Emirates.
The FCDO states: “The local rules may change, including at short notice.
“You should check them carefully before you travel and whilst you are in the UAE, and ensure you comply.
“The UAE authorities have stated that any violation of instructions and procedures put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19 will be treated as a crime punishable by law.”
Social distancing and the use of face masks in most public places are mandatory.
Abu Dhabi has made it mandatory for residents aged 16 years and above and international tourists to have a “green pass” on the “AlHosn” app in order to access public places.
This means people will need to have completed a full course of vaccination.
The Alhosn app is the UAE’s official app related to COVID-19.
What are the rules for returning to the UK from the UAE?
The UAE is on the amber list for travel at the time of writing.
This means that fully-vaccinated Britons returning from the UAE are not required to self-isolate.
They must, however, take a pre-departure test and book a PCR test to be taken on day two of their arrival.
Details of this test must be included on the passenger locator form, to be filled out before departure.
Unvaccinated travellers still face 10 days of quarantine on their return to the UK.
Along with a pre-departure and day two PCR test, unvaccinated people must also take a day eight PCR test.
The FCDO explains: “With effect from 18 January, all travellers to England, Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales from abroad, including UK nationals returning home, must provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result taken up to three days before departure.
“If you do not comply (and you do not have a valid exemption) your airline or carrier may refuse you boarding and/or you may be fined on arrival.”
However, these rules are set to change from October 4.
Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps announced the change earlier in September.
He explained that vaccinated travellers will become exempt from taking a pre-departure test, however, they will still be required to take a day two PCR test.
People who are not fully vaccinated will still need to take a pre-departure test and PCR tests on days two and eight.
Quarantine rules will remain in place for 10 days.
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