September 18th, 2021
Pakistan will be moved from the Red List countries to the less stringent Amber List under the United Kingdom’s COVID travel rules from September 22, allowing Pakistani citizens to finally enter UK after five months of the travel ban.
Turkey, Pakistan, the Maldives, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Oman, Bangladesh and Kenya will move off the red list at 4am Wednesday, September 22, according to an announcement from British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who said the country would also switch to a new simplified two-tiered system instead of the current three-tier traffic light system for international travel from October 4.
Residents and visitors from red list countries have been barred from travelling to England. British and Irish nationals travelling to England from red list countries had to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days before being allowed to move freely in the country. Pakistan had severely criticised the British government for putting Pakistan on the red list of countries, calling the move discriminatory.
“UK’s Conservative govt with a strong Indophiles’ presence playing discriminatory politics against Pakistan on Covid. The UK statement to which Dr Faisal has responded exposing its claims!,” Federal Human Rights Minister Shirin Mazari said in a tweet, sharing a letter from Dr Faisal, advisor on health. Mazari said the reply from Dr Faisal Sultan to UK Health Secretary in response to UK government’s ‘explanation’ on why Pakistan is on the red list while India has moved to amber list.
“The table exposes claims of UK govt that UK decision based on science & data! Clearly it has been a purely political decision!,” she tweeted in August.
Pakistan welcomes removal
Mazari welcomed the announcement in a tweet on Friday, saying the United Kingdom had corrected the wrong done to her country.
Thanks to Prime Minister Imran Khan for his strong stance on this issue and UK MPs including but not only Naz Shah@NazShahBfd @Afzal4Gorton + scientific data responses by @fslsltn/NCOC. Also appreciate support of @CTurnerFCDO. Pakistan was dealt with unfairly so it was time for UK govt to put things right!,” she tweeted.
Naz Shah, Member of Parliament for Bradford West, who had launched a public campaign in United Kingdom to remove Pakistan from the red list countries, welcomed the announcement.
“Finally, Pakistan comes off the Red List after almost 6 months. Thanks, in particular to Yasmin Qureshi MP & Dr Christian Turner (British High Commissioner to Pakistan) all their hard work. Please continue to follow all relevant guidance to keep safe,” Naz Shah tweeted.
In her message, Labour Party MP Shah criticised the Conservative government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson for the much-delayed decision to remove Pakistan from the Red List. “This decision should have been made a very long time ago, however, we have seen that this government has continuously favored political choices rather than following the data and the science,” she said.
“I appreciate the efforts made by the government in Pakistan to protect against the spread of Covid-19 and the measures that led to Pakistan being removed from the UK’s travel Red List,” she added.
Shah called on people to follow government measures to protect them from the pandemic. “It is important that we all continue to follow government guidance/ measures to keep ourselves, our families, and our communities, including all the key workers, safe,” the MP said.
Amber list rules
Pakistan would move to the amber list on September 22, allowing Pakistani citizens to travel to England from their homeland.
According to the amber list rules, all travellers have to take the COVID test in the 3 days before they travel to England. On arrival in England, travelers have to book and pay for COVID tests which have to be taken after completing a passenger locator form.
If the travelers are fully vaccinated under an approved UK, Europe and USA vaccination programmes, they will have to COVID-19 test on or before day 2 of their arrival in England.
In case of travelers not being not fully vaccinated, they will quarantine at home or in the place they are staying for 10 days. Such travelers will have to take a COVID test on or before day 2 and on or after day 8 of their arrival.
New travel system from Oct 4
According to Grant Shapps, a simplified system for international travel will take effect on 4th October in light of the success of the UK’s domestic vaccine rollout, providing greater stability for industry and passengers.
“The current traffic light system will be replaced by a single red list of countries and territories which will continue to be crucial in order to protect public health, and simplified travel measures for arrivals from the rest of the world from Monday 4 October at 4am,” reads a statement on the official United Kingdom website.
The new travel system will comprise of two lists – red list and rest of world.
Testing requirements will also be reduced for eligible fully vaccinated travellers, who will no longer need to take a PDT when travelling to England from Monday 4 October 4am.
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 announcement said.
Anyone testing positive will need to isolate and take a confirmatory PCR test, at no additional cost to the traveller, which would be genomically sequenced to help identify new variants, according to the announcement on the official website.