Coronavirus: UK adds Pakistan to its 'red list' of travel ban countries

UK's additional travel restrictions will take effect from April 9

Murtaza Ali Shah

  • Only UK, Irish nationals and those with residency rights in UK will be allowed to travel to UK if they have been in Pakistan
  • Measures will come into effect from April 9
  • Direct flights will continue to operate between Pakistan and UK

The UK has added Pakistan to its Red List of travel ban countries, British High Commissioner to Pakistan Christian Turner announced on Friday. 

"Red Listing means that only UK and Irish nationals and those with residency rights in the UK will be allowed to travel to the UK if they have been in Pakistan in the 10 days before they arrive," Turner said in a video message posted on Twitter.

The commissioner said passengers seeking to travel to the UK from Pakistan will have to pay for a mandatory quarantine stay at a hotel in the UK. 

The measures will come into effect from April 9, 4:00am. The commissioner said direct flights between both countries will continue to operate as usual. 

"But [their] schedules could change," Turner said. 

Earlier, Geo News had learnt that the UK Government was considering including Pakistan in the high-risk "red list countries” due to the rapid spread of coronavirus in Pakistan.

Speaking to Geo News, a well-placed source had said that a high level meeting between Pakistan and UK government officials had been held where the concerns of the British government regarding the rapid rise in COVID-19 cases in Pakistan was raised. 

                                   Key points

  • Only UK and Irish nationals will be allowed to travel to the UK from Pakistan
  • People with residency rights will also be allowed to travel to UK from Pakistan
  • Passengers arriving to UK from Pakistan will have to pay to stay for a mandatory quarantine at govt-managed hotels in UK
  • Measures to come into effect from April 9, 04:00am
  • Flights between both countries to operate as per schedule

The Pakistani government and medical officials had earlier blamed the rise in cases on a coronavirus variant that was first reported in the UK.

The UK government had informed Pakistani officials that it was thinking of imposing stricter requirements on Pakistani travellers.  

The source said a high level delegation was scheduled to visit London in this regard, but the plan was cancelled Wednesday evening after the British High Commission officials spoke to senior Pakistani officials and conveyed the position of the UK government.

Thousands have travelled from the UK to Pakistan in recent months as the UK went into second lockdown. Many of them are still in the country on extended holidays.

Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar has said that the UK variant of the coronavirus is much "more dangerous" than the original COVID-19 virus that had emerged from Wuhan in China.

What will travellers have to do?

As announced by Turner, travellers will need to quarantine in a government-managed hotel for 10 days (11 nights) from the date of their arrival and they must also abide by all the rules in place or face a heavy fine.

Currently, the rules for the countries in the ‘Red Zone’ include: individuals must only arrive at an authorised airport; individuals must provide a negative COVID-19 test to travel to the UK; their results will need to be provided upon arrival in the UK, or else a fine of £500 could be imposed.

Individuals must reside in a government-managed hotel. The 10-day quarantine period must be in one of the government-managed hotels and reserved via the booking portal (before arriving in England). The fee for the ‘quarantine package’ for one adult is £1,750, according to the guidelines. To add another person over the age of 12 to the booking will cost £650, or £325 for a child between the ages of 5 and 12. This price includes transport to and from the hotel, meals, and COVID-19 testing on the second and eighth days of the 10-day quarantine period.

Individuals must complete an online "passenger locator form" in the 48 hours prior to travelling to the UK. The form is intended to provide a passenger’s journey and contact details. 

Passengers who do not complete the form may face delays in entering England or they could be fined or refused entry. Once the form has been completed, passengers will receive a confirmation email with a document attached. The document will contain a QR code that will be scanned by the Border Force to confirm that the form has been completed successfully.

Sanctions may be imposed on passengers who provide false or deliberately misleading information on the passenger locator form. Passengers who provide inaccurate information may be fined "up to £10,000, imprisoned for up to 10 years, or both". 

If the quarantine rules are broken, fines of up to £10,000 may be imposed.