- Say decision exhibits 'callous behaviour'
British parliamentarians criticised the United Kingdom's decision of keeping Pakistan on its "red list", while moving India to the "amber list" for international travel, saying that it is clear discrimination.
As per its travel advisory, the UK government has three lists Red List, Green List and Amber List for entry into England.
The Red List allows only those to enter the UK if they are British or Irish nationals, or if they have residence rights in the UK. Before their travel to England, the nationals must take a Covid-19 test, book a quarantine hotel package, including 2 Covid-19 tests as well as complete a passenger locator form.
On their arrival in England, they must quarantine in a managed hotel, and have their coronavirus tests on or before day 2 and on or after day 8 of quarantine.
For passengers from countries on the Green List, they would need to take a coronavirus test, book and pay for another test to be taken after arrival in England and complete a passenger locator form. Upon their arrival, they must take a Covid-19 test and will not need to quarantine, unless their test comes out positive.
Passengers coming from countries on the Amber List will have to take the Covid-19 test in the 3 days before their travel to England, book for a Covid-19 test to be taken after arrival in England and complete the passenger locator form. They will be required to quarantine at home or in the place they are staying for 10 days and take a test on or before day 2 and on or after day 8.
On Wednesday, the UK government updated its travel rules, promoting India along with Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE to the amber list which will come into effect from August 8 (Sunday).
MP Yasmin Qureshi, Chair of the All Parties Parliamentary Group on Pakistan (APPG), said that despite Pakistan not having any variants of concern, it remains on the red list, adding that in comparison India, from where the Delta variant of the coronavirus originated from, has been promoted to amber list.
"The Government is seeking to penalise Pakistan in favour of potential economic benefit. This is clear and blatant discrimination towards Pakistan," Qureshi tweeted.
"To add insult to injury, the hotel quarantine cost is set to increase by between £450-£800, to a total of £2.2k."
Bradford West MP Naz Shah also expressed her reservations, saying that this was not the first time that the UK had exhibited "callous behaviour" when dealing with the quarantine traffic light system.
She further said that why was Pakistan still on the red list when its seven-day infection was 14 per 100,000 people compared to India's 20 per 100,000.
"The last time this government favoured political choices rather than science and risked our nation's Covid efforts, it failed to place India on the red list. That led to the Delta variant becoming the most prominent Covid variant in the UK," Shah said.
Both Shah and Qureshi have said they will approach Britain's Transport Minister Grant Shapps on this issue.
"Tory Ministers have a lot of explaining to do as to why India is going amber yet Pakistan & other countries remain red," Labour MP for Luton North, Sawah Owen also spoke against the government's decision.
She contended that it was tough to see the reasoning behind these changes to travel lists, even when vaccination rates are taken into account.
In April, the UK government put Pakistan as well as India, Bangladesh, Kenya and Philippines on the red list of countries.
The UK had said that the decision to add Pakistan, Bangladesh, Kenya and Philippines to the list was based on advice from public health experts as well as scientific data.
Then too, dozens of British parliamentarians questioned UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision.
In a letter to Johnson, the MPs said that the UK's decision to put Pakistan and Bangladesh on the red list "will have a huge impact on many UK residents'. The parliamentarians contended that many other countries not on the red list have more positive coronavirus tests per 100,000 people than Pakistan.
"We are asking for the Government to explore charter flight options or to provide financial support for those stranded. If this cannot be done, then measures need to be put in place to extend the cut-off date," the letter further said.