Saturday Sep 18 2021

Travelling from Pakistan to UK – what to know and expect

Pakistan is amongst the eight countries which will move from the UK red list on the morning of 22 September 2021. Photo: file
Pakistan is amongst the eight countries which will move from the UK red list on the morning of 22 September 2021. Photo: file 

LONDON: Passengers travelling from Pakistan to the UK are subjected to new rules after the country was removed from the Red List on Friday.

The development comes as a relief to tens of thousands who are already making plans to arrive in the UK from within and outside of Pakistan.

It is essential to know that conditions related to the approved COVID-19 vaccines remain in place and will continue to be applied strictly.

Pakistan is amongst the eight countries which will be removed from the Red List on the morning of 22 September 2021 and new rules will apply to Pakistani travellers as several old conditions will stand withdrawn.

It is also important to note that the rules for international travel to England will change on 4 October 2021.

What vaccines are acceptable in the UK?

Fully vaccinated Pakistanis with one of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) authorised vaccines which are Pfizer, Moderna, Oxford AstraZeneca or Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) are permitted to enter the UK and exempted from quarantine and testing under the rules.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is the UK authority responsible for assessing the safety, quality and efficacy of vaccines has approved the same vaccines.

Sinopharm and Sinovac are approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) but these are not approved by the UK government and not part of the UK approved list of five vaccines. The UK government says it will also recognise travellers as fully vaccinated if they were jabbed in another 17 countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Israel and Canada.

Will Pakistani travellers need to isolate or quarantine?

Mandatory hotel quarantine at the cost of £2,285 per person will not apply anymore from 22 September onwards but those travelling without the UK approved and above-mentioned four vaccines will need to self-isolate at a designated place, either home, hotel or hostel.

What are the test rules?

Simpler and cheaper rules for fully vaccinated travellers coming from non-red list countries such as Pakistan will apply to fully vaccinated passengers. Day 2 PCR tests will be replaced with cheaper lateral flow tests – from the end of October – and passengers will no longer need to take pre-departure tests (PDTs).

From Monday 4 October 4am, eligible fully vaccinated travellers will no longer need to take a PDT when travelling to England. The PCR or lateral flow test must be taken three days before returning to the UK from Pakistan. Tests after arrival in the UK must be PCR tests and must be booked before travel.

What are the testing rules?

Passengers testing positive will need to isolate and take a PCR test, at no additional cost to the traveller, which would be genomically sequenced to help identify new variants.

Under the new England international travel rules, those who have not been fully vaccinated will have to get pre-departure tests and day 2 and day 8 PCR tests upon arrival in the UK. Self-isolation period will end once the test to release is cleared.

Vaccine advice

The UK government has advised the passengers in Pakistan and elsewhere to be vaccinated in their country of residence before arriving in the UK.

The Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, has said that a simplified system for international travel in light of the success of the UK’s domestic vaccine rollout is being introduced, providing greater stability for industry and passengers.

He said the changes mean “a simpler, more straightforward system. One with less testing and lower costs, allowing more people to travel, see loved ones or conduct business around the world while providing a boost for the travel industry. Public health has always been at the heart of our international travel policy and with more than 8 in 10 adults vaccinated in the UK, we are now able to introduce a proportionate updated structure that reflects the new landscape.”