Flights from Oman to UK banned as country joins Red List

Oman Tuesday 16/March/2021 08:05 AM
By: Times News Service
Flights from Oman to UK banned as country joins Red List
Representative image

Muscat: Flights from Oman will no longer be allowed to land at airports in the UK, as part of measures taken to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

Starting Friday, March 19, Oman will be among the 36 countries included on the UK’s Red List. After that date, only British and Irish nationals, as well as foreign citizens with residency rights to the country will be allowed to enter, although they do have to quarantine at a hotel at their own expense for 10 days, on arrival, and take two COVID tests during that period: one the first or second day, and on the eighth day of their quarantine.

The four countries that will be added to the UK’s Red List on Friday are Oman, Somalia, Qatar, and Ethiopia. The list also includes many states from South America, as well countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Namibia, South Africa, and Tanzania.

“In order to protect the UK against new variants of the coronavirus, the UK government took the decision to add a number of countries to the Red List,” said a spokesperson at the Embassy of the UK in Muscat. “Ministers balance a range of factors including a risk assessment from the UK’s Joint Biosecurity Centre, alongside policy advice from across the UK government.

“This assessment covers a range of factors for each country including assessment of surveillance and sequencing capability, available surveillance and genome sequencing data, evidence of in-country community transmission of COVID-19 variants, evidence of exportation of new variants to the UK or other countries, and travel connectivity with the UK,” she added.

Passengers who plan on flying to the UK cannot do so either directly from the Red List countries, or if they have been in one of these countries in the 10 days prior to the date of their flight. Before arriving, all flyers must take a COVID test three days before their travel. Only those with a negative result will be allowed to board the aircraft.

A booking must also be made at one of the hotels reserved for quarantine, before passengers exit their country of departure. Quarantine packages include the hotel, transport from the airport, and two COVID tests which need to be taken on days two and eight.

A passenger locator form that provides the contact details and addresses of people flying into the UK must also be filled in. This includes a list of countries visited over the 10 days prior to your flight.

“You could be fined up to £10,000, imprisoned for up to 10 years, or both, if you do not provide accurate details about the countries you have visited in the 10 days before you arrived in the UK,” said the UK government in its advisory. “If you break the quarantine rules you may face a penalty of up to £10,000.”

The inclusion of Oman and other countries on the list is not permanent, says the British Embassy in Muscat. “The methodology and border measures are kept under constant review in light of the developing domestic and international health picture,” said the embassy spokesperson.

“Although both the UK and Omani governments strongly discourage non-essential travel, it is inevitable that the latest announcement will impact on some travel plans,” she added. “The UK and Oman will continue to work together to combat COVID-19.”