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UK retains Pakistan on its travel red list as efforts go in vain

  • The Red List allows only those to enter the UK if they are British or Irish nationals, or they have residence rights in the UK
  • UK govt says the decision to add Pakistan to the list was based on advice from public health experts
Published August 26, 2021
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The UK government has decided to retain Pakistan on its travel 'red list' after the latest review that took place on Thursday.

Seven countries, including Canada, Denmark, Finland, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Switzerland, and the Azores will move into the green list from August 30 "as the risk that travel from these countries poses to public health in the UK is low".

It said that Thailand and Montenegro will be added to the red list from 4am on Monday (August 30, 2021), reflecting the increased case rates in these countries and the higher risk that travel from these countries poses to UK public health

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 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.

Johnson says reviewing Pakistan’s ‘red list’ status

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.

During the last review, the UK government had promoted India along with Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE to the amber list while keeping Pakistan on its red list.

Over the last few weeks, Pakistan's government has engaged the UK authorities in an attempt to move out of the red list. However, the efforts have proved unfruitful.

The Pakistan High Commission in London also said that it was disappointed with the latest decision.

"Disappointed with decision to retain Pakistan on Red List," it tweeted. "(This) Entails continuing hardship for thousands of Pakistanis and British Pakistanis. Had shared all relevant data. Question mark over equity & consistency of criteria being employed."

Red list travel rules: Pakistan presents counter to UK's argument

Earlier, responding to Pakistan's request to move the country out of the red list, the British prime minister Boris Johnson had said that his government was reviewing Covid-19 statistics to mull over if the country could be removed from the ‘red list’.

“We continuously review changes in the red list,” Boris Johnson conveyed to the Pakistani high commissioner amid hopes that the country would be removed from the list soon.

Meanwhile, Pakistan had also responded to the UK's decision to keep it on the red list by sharing its data on its coronavirus response, testing rates, genomic surveillance, and other efforts being taken to stabilize the spread of the virus.

In a letter addressed to the UK's secretary of state for health, Pakistan's Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan said that UK's decision to retain Pakistan on its red list while moving other regional countries to the amber list has been received with dismay.

Dr Sultan pointed out that Pakistan's efforts in controlling the novel Covid-19 virus have been recognized by the World Health Organization and the United Nations General Assembly. The World Economic Forum also celebrated 'Pakistan Strategy Day' to endorse Pakistan's strategy of handling the pandemic and the economy, the SAPM said.

The decision to keep Pakistan on the red list has received widespread criticism from Pakistan as well as British parliamentarians who said it reeked of discrimination.

British MP Yasmin Qureshi, Chair of the All Parties Parliamentary Group on Pakistan (APPG) had said after the last review 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.

British MPs criticise UK govt for retaining Pakistan on 'red list', promoting India to 'amber'

Separately, Bradford West MP Naz Shah also expressed her reservations, saying that this was not the first time that the UK had exhibited "callous behavior" when dealing with the quarantine traffic light system.

In April, the UK government put Pakistan as well as India, Bangladesh, Kenya and the Philippines on the red list of countries.


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