Passenger flights from UAE to Scotland banned from Friday

Transport secretary says new measures needed to reduce the risk of importing new strains of coronavirus.

Passenger flights from UAE to Scotland banned from Friday Getty Images

All flights carrying passengers from the United Arab Emirates to Scotland will be banned from 1pm on Friday.

Transport secretary Michael Matheson said the new measures are being introduced to reduce the risk of importing new strains of coronavirus.

Furthermore, the Scottish Government says anyone who has spent time in the UAE, Burundi or Rwanda in the past 10 days has to self-isolate on arrival in Scotland.

The limited exemptions to isolation will not apply for these countries, and everyone else in the household of arriving passengers must also isolate.

The change to self-isolation rules come into force at 4am on Friday after ministers decided enhanced quarantine measures were needed following discussions with the Joint Biosecurity Centre.

Dubai, one of the seven emirates of the UAE, is a major international travel hub and the flight ban is expected to cause major disruption to people returning to Scotland from Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

British and Irish nationals, and people with residence rights, can still enter the UK but must self-isolate upon their return home following the suspension of all travel corridors earlier this month.

Border Force will also refuse entry to the UK, using reserved immigration powers, for travellers from those countries who are not British, Irish, or have the right to reside in the UK.

The UK Department for Transport advised British nationals currently in the UAE that they can use “indirect commercial routes” to return home.

Matheson said: “In Scotland and in countries across the world, the virus continues to pose real risks to health and to life and we need to interrupt the rise in cases.

“These measures are essential to reduce risk of importation of new cases and strains, particularly associated with the variant identified in South Africa.

“These changes are essential preventative action and address the risk of new variants entering Scotland with the potential to increase the numbers of cases testing positive or reduce the effectiveness of vaccine.”

A number of influencers have visited Dubai in the UAE in recent weeks despite the UK’s ban on leisure travel, insisting their trips are for work purposes.

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said there are “still too many people coming in and out of our country each day” despite the coronavirus lockdown.

She said: “We see plenty of influencers on social media showing off about which parts of the world that they are in, mainly in sunny parts of the world.

“Going on holiday is not an exemption and it’s important that people stay at home.”

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said earlier this week that passengers arriving in Scotland may soon be made to quarantine in hotels, adding that Scotland would “go at least as far” as any UK Government quarantine arrangements.

Under the plans – which have been credited for keeping cases low in Australia and New Zealand – arrivals would be forced to stay in a hotel until their isolation period is complete.

Direct flights to the UK from South Africa, Brazil and Portugal have already been suspended in a bid to control the spread of new variants of coronavirus.