Britain is adding the United Arab Emirates, Burundi and Rwanda to its coronavirus travel ban list from Friday, prompting Emirates and Etihad Airways to suspend all their UK flights.
British Transport Minister Grant Shapps announced the new bans on Thursday, with the two Middle Eastern airlines announcing flight suspensions a few hours later.
Shapps said the decision, which come into effect from 1300GMT on Friday, was a response to new evidence showing the likely spread of a coronavirus variant first identified in South Africa to the newly banned countries.
“This means people who have been in or transited through these countries will be denied entry, except British, Irish and third country nationals with residence rights who must self-isolate for ten days at home,” Shapps said on Twitter.
The transport department said there was a ban on direct passenger flights from the United Arab Emirates.
Dubai-based Emirates said on its website that it would suspend passenger services between Dubai and all of its UK points, including London, Birmingham, Glasgow and Manchester,effective 1300 GMT on Friday until further notice.
Abu Dhabi-based Etihad also said on its website that all UK flights would be suspended from 1300 GMT on Friday.
Both airlines normally carry large numbers of passengers connecting from Britain to destinations like Australia through their airport hubs.