‘Illegal’ to travel from UK to Pakistan for leisure, says Turner
British high commissioner urges people to not travel unless there is a legally permitted reason to do so
British High Commissioner Christian Turner on Tuesday said that it is "illegal" to travel from the United Kingdom for leisure as the cases of coronavirus were rising in Pakistan.
Pakistan reported 3,270 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours, taking the country's Covid-19 tally to 633,741.
The country's death toll climbed to 13,935 after 72 people succumbed to the deadly disease overnight.
Update on Covid & 🇬🇧🇵🇰 travel: it’s illegal to travel from UK for leisure; cases are rising in 🇵🇰; & border measures can change at short notice - stay informed at https://t.co/SaaXJrgQHx pic.twitter.com/gZ01SJIJij— Christian Turner (@CTurnerFCDO) March 23, 2021
"Cases of Covid-19 in Pakistan are rising. The country is going through a third wave with a recent spike in cases. As a result, the government of Pakistan has reintroduced a series of tougher measures to curb the virus including smart and local lockdowns. If you are in Pakistan, do follow these rules," Turner said in a video message shared on his official Twitter handle.
He urged the people to observe the standard operation procedures (SOPs) and wear a facemask to curb the spread of the virus, saying that this is no time for complacency.
"For those of you in the UK thinking of travelling to Pakistan, under current UK Covid restrictions you must stay at home as it is illegal to travel abroad for leisure. You shouldn't travel unless you have a legally permitted reason to do so, and you will need to fill in a form declaring that your travel is essential which can be checked by UK authorities at the airport," he added.
Read more: Govt bans flights from 12 African states
The British envoy further said that the UK government is keeping its border controls under constant review and changes could happen at a short notice, and if they did direct flights could stop, and hotel quarantining on arrival in England could be made mandatory.
The UK's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advised against all travel to:
- The areas in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province formerly known as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas
- The districts of Charsadda, Kohat, Tank, Bannu, Lakki, Dera Ismail Khan, Swat, Buner and Lower Dir in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa
- The city of Peshawar and districts south of the city, including travel on the Peshawar to Chitral road via the Lowari Pass
- Balochistan province including the city of Quetta but excluding the southern coast of Balochistan (see below)
- The section of the Karakoram Highway (also known as Kara Karam Highway or KKH) from Mansehra to Chilas, via Battagram, Besham City, Dasu and Sazin
- The immediate vicinity of the Line of Control
On Saturday, the federal government of Pakistan placed a travel ban on 12 African countries under the coronavirus SOPs and eased the restrictions on flights coming in from the UK.
According to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), there are three categories – A, B and C – in which countries are placed accordingly to contain the spread of Covid. Category A passengers do not require a Covid test, the ones in ‘B’ need a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test conducted 72 hours before travelling to Pakistan and the countries placed in ‘C’ must obtain clearance from the National Command and Control Centre (NCOC) prior to sending their flights to Pakistan.
CAA Director Air Transport Irfan Sabir issued a new travel guideline placing the African countries in Category C and imposing strict travel restrictions in view of the dangers of the spread of the virus.
The new notification is effective from March 23 to April 5, 2021.