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Sunday, 6 June 2021

Goodbye, Brits. Hello, Russians?

We’re not likely to see a lot of UK tourists arriving in Egypt anytime soon: Egypt is among seven countries moving to Britain’s “red list” on 8 June, meaning travellers entering the UK from Egypt will be required to quarantine at their own expense for 10 days in a government designated hotel, the UK government announced in a statement. Only British or Irish nationals or those who have residence rights will be allowed to enter the UK from Egypt, EgyptAir said in a statement. Reuters also took note of the story.

Why now? Although the government didn’t directly explain the decision to place Egypt on the red list, it appears to have been motivated by concerns over the country’s vulnerability to new variants of the virus. A government-backed travel health body said there is a “high risk of exposure” to covid in Egypt, and advised against travel due to an “emerging covid-19 variant” in the region.

Some will still come in spite of the quarantine, right? Sure, some tourists desperate for sun might shrug off the inconvenience of a 10-day quarantine on the way back home. But most will flinch at having to pay the GBP 1,750+ charge. That makes Egypt an extremely expensive destination for UK holidaymakers, so we can likely say goodbye to tourists from that corner of the world until we’re moved off the bad list.

On the plus side, we may be getting the Russians back in just a few days. Flights to Red Sea resorts are likely to resume “in the coming days” following a six-year hiatus, Aeroflot CEO Mikhail Poluboyarinov said in an interview on Friday, according to Tass.

But then again, we might not: “We understand that there is a high degree of readiness for the reopening of two more destinations [to Egypt], Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh, but we do not know yet when and how this will happen,” Poluboyarinov told Reuters. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for June, or at least for some point in the summer season. The industry has been biting its nails and waiting for the big day since the plan was announced in April, but repeated delays since the agreement was announced mean we won’t be holding our breaths.

Direct flights between Egypt and Libya could also be making a return: A Civil Aviation Ministry delegation inspected Benina, Mitiga and Misrata international airports in Libya Wednesday, ahead of the potential resumption of direct flights to Cairo, Asharq Al Awsat reports. Civilian flights between Cairo and Tripoli were said to have resumed in April, though our own search yielded no direct flights from Cairo to Tripoli without a stopover in Tunis for the coming three months.

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