Latest advisory allows travelers from eight countries, including Bangladesh and Turkey, to travel to the U.K. without mandatory hotel quarantine
The U.K. government on Friday amended its coronavirus travel restrictions, with Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps announcing that Pakistan was among eight countries that would no longer be on the travel red-list from Sept. 22 (Wednesday).
The U.K. updates its travel advisories every 2-3 weeks, restricting travel to-and-from countries with high incidence of the coronavirus and easing curbs on nations that show a decline in new cases of COVID-19. Travelers from countries on the red-list had been required to undergo 10-day mandatory quarantine at a government-designated hotel at own cost. This had prompted outrage among affected travelers, with British lawmakers stressing that many of the people who needed to travel to the U.K. could not afford to spend the £2,285 required for the hotel quarantine.
In August, the British government had retained Pakistan on the red list due to comparatively low testing rates and limited genomic surveillance, which is used to identify new variants of concern. Pakistan was initially added to the red-list in April, when the Delta variant was sweeping across the world. In addition to Pakistan, the latest travel advisory also removes Sri Lanka, Oman, Bangladesh, Kenya, Turkey, Egypt, and the Maldives from the red-list.
“Pleased to confirm Pakistan is off the red-list,” British High Commissioner to Pakistan Christian Turner wrote in a posting on Twitter. “I know how difficult the last 5 months were for so many who rely on close links between Great Britain and Pakistan,” he said, adding that he was grateful to Special Assistant to the P.M. Dr. Faisal Sultan, Planning Minister Asad Umar and relevant Pakistani institutions for their close collaboration.
“[The U.K.] will continue to work closely with Pakistan to ensure data-sharing and safeguard public health in both countries,” he said. “No one is safe until everyone is safe.”
Pakistani officials likewise hailed the development. Responding to Turner, Dr. Sultan said Pakistan’s removal from the U.K. red-list was “great news,” and thanked the British envoy and other U.K. government officials for engaging with Pakistan to understand its epidemic response.
According to Shapps, the U.K. would unveil a new system for international travel from Oct. 4. “If you’re fully [vaccinated] you won’t need a pre-departure test before arrival into England from a non-red country and from later in October, will be able to replace the day 2 PCR test with a cheaper lateral flow,” he said. “We’ll also be introducing a new simplified system for international travel from Oct. 4, replacing the current approach with a single red list and simplified measures for the rest of the world—striking the right balance to manage the public health risk as No.1 priority,” he said.