UK travellers rush home from UAE before 1pm flight ban

Thousands of British travellers rushed to return home from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Friday before a flight ban came into force.

Social media influencers and models are among those affected by the decision to ban direct flights from the UAE from 1pm.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced the policy at 5pm on Thursday, giving travellers just 20 hours to make arrangements.

The measure is aimed at stopping the spread of the South African coronavirus variant.

Three flights from Dubai and two from Abu Dhabi were due to land at Heathrow before the 1pm curfew on Friday.

One flight arrived at Manchester Airport from Abu Dhabi, and one landed in Glasgow from Dubai.

The Gulf hubs are normally popular for people flying from Asia and Australasia to the UK on connecting flights.

From 1pm, visitors from the UAE will be banned from entering the UK.

British and Irish nationals and those with residence rights will still be able to enter, but must self-isolate for 10 days at home.

Sheffield make-up artist Amy Wilson was among those passengers travelling back ahead of the deadline.

She tweeted: “Can’t believe how lucky me and jack have been with flights, got back from turkey 2 hours before the quarantine deadline & getting the last flight home from Dubai before the U.K. closes its boarders to the UAE.

“Someone’s looking out for me.”

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

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

This was criticised by Home Secretary Priti Patel, who claimed there are “still too many people coming in and out of our country each day”.

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.”