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UK removes Pakistan from travel red list

Rules for international travel to England will also change

SAMAA | - Posted: Sep 17, 2021 | Last Updated: 1 month ago
Posted: Sep 17, 2021 | Last Updated: 1 month ago

Photo: AFP

The United Kingdom has removed Pakistan from its red travel list, British High Commissioner to Pakistan has announced.

The UK government is also doing away with the traffic light system of travel rules to replace it with a simpler list.

Pakistan remained on the red list for over five months. Thousands of Pakistani families had been waiting for the decision, which would save them hundreds of pounds per person. The red list rules required them to quarantine at the designated hotels and take a coronavirus test on day 2 or day 8 of arrival.

On Friday, the UK government said it is removing eight countries including Pakistan from the red list on September 22.

Counties that are being removed from the red list include Turkey, Pakistan, the Maldives, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Oman, Bangladesh and Kenya. “Changes will come into effect at 4 am Wednesday 22 September,” the UK government said.

Earlier, data expert Tim White had told Sky News that as many as 12 countries could be removed from the red list including Argentina, Bangladesh, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Kenya, Maldives, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Turkey.

After the names of 8 countries were taken off the list, at least 54 nations still face UK travel restrictions.

New system

The rules for international travel to England will change on 4 October 2021, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said.

“The current traffic light system will be replaced by a single red list of countries and territories … and simplified travel measures for arrivals from the rest of the world from Monday 4 October at 4 am,” according to a statement.

Under the new system, travellers would no longer be required to take a pre-departure test (PDT) and their day 2 test would be much cheaper.

“From the end of October, eligible fully vaccinated passengers and those with an approved vaccine from a select group of non-red countries will be able to replace their day 2 test with a cheaper lateral flow test, reducing the cost of tests on arrival into England,” the statement adds.

High commissioner seeks data sharing

High Commissioner Christian Turner applauded cooperation from Pakistan officials and ministries including Asad Umar.

Turner also indicated he wanted Pakistani officials to share health data.

“Britain will continue to work closely with Pakistan to ensure data sharing & safeguard public health in both countries. No one is safe until everyone is safe, ” he said.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the UK government made the decision after Pakistan presented scientific evidence before it. In a statement, he welcomed the announcement.

Hotels costs under red list

Under the red list system, the mandatory 10-day stay at one of the managed quarantined hotels cost £2,285 for each adult passenger. The amount translated to over half a million Pakistani rupees.

It included £210 each passenger paid for the Covid-19 test.

However, a negative cost would not shorten the stay and travellers had to complete the 10-day (11 night) quarantine period.

Anyone found violating the rules was to the fined £10,000.

The curbs have affected the travel industry in the UK. In June hundreds of people from the travel industry including airline cabin crew and pilots, demonstrate during a ‘Travel Day of Action’ outside the Houses of Parliament in central London, calling on the UK Government to support a safe return of international travel.

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