Late in the evening on Wednesday 4 August, the Government announced its decision to keep Pakistan on the red list for international travel. This means those returning from Pakistan, regardless of their vaccination status, must self-isolate for 10 days in a Government-approved quarantine hotel.
Red-list countries are those the Government claim present the highest Covid risk and should not be visited “except in the most extreme circumstances.”
In the last-minute announcement, the Government also hiked up the cost of the required quarantine hotel stays for those returning from red list countries. This will now cost an individual an eye-watering £2,285 for the required 10-day stay.
The Government’s decision to keep Pakistan on the red list is very surprising, not least considering it has moved India to the amber list despite it having a higher Covid infection rate.
The most recent data shows case rates in India are 29 per million, compared with Pakistan’s 22 per million.
To many, it appears the Government is putting politics ahead of public health considerations or science.
Travel restrictions are wreaking havoc on people’s lives across the UK and the Government must explain how and why it has come to these most recent decisions.
I am aware of the significant concern these announcements will have sparked among constituents in Manchester Gorton. I have written to the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, requesting more information about the decision-making process and will continue to press the Government on this issue.
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This week myself and colleagues wrote to Sajid Javid on Tuesday 24th August to ask for further clarification and urge the Government to move Pakistan to the amber list given recent developments.
With the crisis in Afghanistan underway, Pakistan can play a huge role in delivering key humanitarian aid and help with emergency evacuations.
I received a response to my initial letter from the Aviation Minister on Thursday 26th August 2021 outlining that Pakistan will remain on the red list. I am deeply disappointed by the Government’s decision and I know it will upset many and cause major disruption.
As Chair of the APPG on Britain-Pakistan Trade and Tourism, I will continue to follow this matter closely.