Dubai: British expats visiting home for Christmas and New Year are returning to the UAE earlier than scheduled amid fears over the all-new UK coronavirus strain that has sent a wave of panic in the country.
The new virus VUI – 202012/01 is said to have a faster rate of infection and has set alarm bells ringing across Europe in the festive season.
Alexandra Saikkonen-Williams, 34, said she and her son, Jenson, are flying back before New Year although their ticket was booked for January 4. “The UK has gone into Tier 4 lockdown in the most densely populated areas. Since the time we have been in the UK, we have been unable to see family or friends even though coming from the UAE, we were exempt from quarantine. Owing to the number of restrictions, we have not been able to do things which we normally do on a holiday back home anyway. It has been a disappointing Christmas and we just see no point in hanging around here too long.”
Alex said she missed the carol services, and there were limits to church attendance. “There are very few decorations in public places compared to what it normally is in the UK. So we decided to change our flights.”
She said luckily she and her son were booked to the UK on flexi tickets. So re-scheduling her return ticket was not an expensive affair. “We paid an extra Dh1,680. If we had to purchase new tickets, it would have cost us Dh5,890.”
Another British expat living in Dubai, Nick Kelly, 44, a personal trainer by profession, said he was returning December 26 instead of January 3. “I feel safer in the UAE as the Emirates does much to maintain social distancing measures. Not just that, I am worried that if things go out of hand, then there might be border closures and I cannot risk it. I have my business to run and I cannot afford to be stuck in the UK for long. It is a logical decision I have taken.”
Beauty educator in Dubai Amy Hockey has also taken a similar decision. “Flying back on December 30 with Emirates hopefully,” she said.