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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Latest Qatar-UK travel changes: All your questions answered

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On Monday evening, British authorities announced new travel restrictions to travellers from Qatar, placing a temporary ban on direct flights to England. Here is all you need to know about the latest changes.

All arrivals to the UK must test negative before departure to the UK, quarantine for ten days upon arrival to the UK, and take two compulsory tests during the quarantine. 

However, the UK has something called the ‘red list’ which takes these measures much, much further. Countries already on the ‘red list’ include South Africa, Brazil, and most of the continent of Africa.

Only British citizens or those with residency rights in the UK are permitted to travel from countries that are on the red list to the UK, and they must pay to quarantine in a mandatory hotel quarantine facility at a cost of £1,750 per passenger.

If you are not a British citizen, or a person with residency rights in the UK, you cannot travel to the UK from a red-list country, even indirectly.

It doesn’t end there. Most red list countries also have one-way flight bans applied on them, meaning direct flights from those nations to the UK are banned entirely. 

With Qatar being placed on the red list, what does this mean?

Direct passenger flights from Doha to the UK will end by 4am on the 19th March 2021, until further notice. As per the announcement, all aircraft carrying passengers will not be permitted to depart Doha bound for the UK. 

This will have a significant impact on transit passengers too. As for any passengers who are flying via Doha to the UK (such as from Sydney to Doha to London) will now have their final part of the journey (Doha to London) cancelled, due to the UK’s flight ban on Qatar. Passengers will be able to obtain refunds, or rebook. 

Read also: UK slaps ban on all direct flights from Qatar

Additionally, as per the UK’s red list rules, only British citizens and/or those with residency rights will be able to enter the UK and quarantine in a mandatory hotel quarantine facility (at a cost of £1,750 per passenger) if they have been in Qatar over the last ten days.

This means that if a British citizen and/or resident was able to reach the UK by flying via a European city, they would still be considered as having come from Doha, and therefore subject to the red list rules.

Can a Qatari visit the UK after 18th March?

No, direct flights will end, and only British citizens and/or those with residency rights who fly via other airports to reach the UK will be permitted to enter, and then quarantine at a cost of £1,750 per person 

Can anyone with UK residence rights (such as students on a ‘BRP’ visa) travel from Qatar to the UK after Thursday? *

On direct flights – no. The UK government has said it will ban all direct passenger flights from Qatar to UK from Friday at 4am ‘until further notice’ 

Students with residence visas (such as BRP) issued by the UK would have to fly from Qatar via elsewhere to the UK. 

Read also: UK strain, spike in hospitalisation: Will more Covid-19 restrictions be imposed?

For example, a student could choose to fly from Qatar to a European City and then onwards to the UK, but they would be subject to Covid-19 rules of the transit point country. They would still have to pay £1,750 for a ten- day mandatory hotel quarantine upon arrival to the UK. 

Can a foreign visitor travel to the UK from, or via Doha after the 18th March?

No, all direct passenger flights will end from Doha to London. 

Only British citizens and/or residents who fly via other airports to reach UK (such as Doha-Paris-London) will be permitted to enter UK with mandatory hotel quarantine at a cost of £1,750 per person.

Anyone who is not a British citizen or resident will not be able to enter UK if they have been in Qatar over the last ten days.

What if I am fully vaccinated (both doses), am I still banned from travelling from a red list country to the UK?

Yes, unfortunately the UK does not make any exemptions for people who are fully vaccinated. 

If I am already in UK, will I be able to return to Doha?

We are not sure about this just yet, and there should be more clarity over the coming days over whether or not flights will continue to operate from the UK to Doha 

What we know for sure is that flights from Doha to the UK will be banned after Thursday night. The official quote from the UK government is: “From 4am on 19 March, direct flights from Qatar to England are prohibited”

When will this ban end? 

The UK government has confirmed that the ban on entry, as well as the ban on flights from red list countries to the UK, is “until further notice”. 

Britain remains in a national lockdown, which is only scheduled to be fully lifted from late-June, at the earliest.

Alex Macheras is an aviation analyst, broadcasting and discussing the world’s aviation news across international networks including BBC, Good Morning Britain, and Al Jazeera in the Middle East. You can follow him on Twitter
Instagram.


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