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COVID-19: UK bans flights from Qatar from 19 March 2021

COVID-19: UK bans flights from Qatar from 19 March 2021

This is very bad news for anyone travelling from Australia via Qatar back to the United Kingdom – most likely on Qatar Airlines.

From 4 am on 19 March, direct flights from Qatar to England are prohibited. Visitors who have been in or transited through Qatar in the previous 10 days cannot enter England. British and Irish nationals and third country nationals with residence rights in the UK arriving in England from Qatar will be required to quarantine in a hotel.

From Gov.UK accessed 08:17, 17 March 2021 (my emphasis)

It applies to anyone arriving from Qatar – even if you are just transiting.

On arrival in the UK, you will also need to quarantine in a government facility for 10 days if you have been in any ‘Red List‘ travel ban country in the last 10 days. That ‘Red List‘ now includes Qatar.

Qatar Business lounge at Hamad Airport, Doha, Qatar

Countries on the ‘Red List’

The ‘Red List’ is based on the perceived risk of importing more virulent versions of the COVID-19 virus into the (dis-) United Kingdom.

  • Angola
  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Botswana
  • Brazil
  • Burundi
  • Cape Verde
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Ecuador
  • Eswatini
  • Ethiopia (from 4am Friday 19 March)
  • French Guiana
  • Guyana
  • Lesotho
  • Malawi
  • Mauritius (removed from 4am Friday 19 March)
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Oman (from 4am Friday 19 March)
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores) (removed from 4am Friday 19 March)
  • Qatar (from 4am Friday 19 March)
  • Rwanda
  • Seychelles
  • Somalia (from 4am Friday 19 March)
  • South Africa
  • Suriname
  • Tanzania
  • United Arab Emirates (UAE)
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

The ban is on passengers entering the UK, so flights carrying cargo are still allowed, and notionally, you could catch a Qatar Airlines flight out of the UK to Qatar. Emirates have done something similar, given that the UAE is also on the Red List.

2PAXfly Takeout

If you are planning trans-Tasman or international travel in the next 12 months – and who isn’t? – then this is a great way to earn Gold with Air New Zealand, and for getting gold recognition on 26 Star Alliance members from Singapore Airlines and Thai to Asiana, ANA and Lufthansa.

Air New Zealand fares appear significantly lower than Qantas at the moment, in most classes, so why not save some money, and match your status? You will also travel on either their 787 or brand new A321neo’s compared to Qantas A330’s where you might have to endure the flying kangaroo’s business suite product (ironic yuk!)

It seems like it’s status match nirvana at the moment.

We have British/Australian mates about to return to the UK in April. I hope things have calmed down by then.

The UK has pursued an amazingly inconsistent policy on prevention and travel in the COVID-19 era, that I just don’t trust their logic. This move might cause a stampede of returning passengers in the next few days to avoid the ban. I’m not sure that is the way to manage the entry of nasty strains of the virus into the UK.

As well as disrupting people’s travel plans, this will have a major impact on Qatar Airlines, who have bravely continued their international services throughout the pandemic and happen to be my favourite airline.

If you are caught up in this – you might want to explore flights on Thai Airways that has just tweeted that they are flying each Sunday in March for THB87,735 (AU$3,680) in Business and THB15,765 (AU$662) Economy all-inclusive one-way.

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