- Posted by: Valerie Vaz MP
- Category: News
On 7 April 2021, I co-signed letters to the Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary and Health Secretary regarding the decision to place Pakistan and Bangladesh on the travel ‘red list’, with the ban coming into force at very short notice at 4am on 9 April 2021.
You can read the full text of the letter to the Prime Minister below, which was signed by over 40 of my colleagues.
Dear Prime Minister,
Pakistan and Bangladesh Red List Travel Ban
We are writing in relation to the decision to place Pakistan and Bangladesh on the travel ‘red list’ with the ban coming into force at very short notice at 4am on 9 April 2021.
The placing of these countries on the red list will have a huge impact on many UK residents. The UK has over 1.1m British Pakistanis and a large number of British Bangladeshis in the UK. Whilst we support measures where there is a clear need to act to protect the UK in relation to COVID-19, we have major concerns about the way this plan has been implemented without providing clear evidence for that decision.
Many UK citizens have travelled to those countries in accordance with the Government’s COVID-19 guidelines. The vast majority will have travelled to visit family, including elderly relatives, whom they may not have seen for over a year. They will have already paid for return flights but are now in a position where they will have to pay for new flights in order to return before the ban is put in place. Flight costs are currently around £2,000 per single ticket. Most of the people who have travelled will have paid for return flights priced at around £500 which are now useless.
The vast majority of UK residents currently in those countries will have had to save up for some time to fly over there. Most are not rich or even moderately wealthy people, but are working class citizens. We feel that the Government should do everything it can to help our constituents left stranded by this decision. They are being put into a position of either being stuck abroad or getting into considerable debt to pay to get home. We are asking for the Government to explore charter flight options or to provide financial support for those stranded. If this cannot be done, then measures need to be put in place to extend the cut-off date.
We have major concerns about the lack of available data and evidential and scientific reasoning which have been used to put these countries on the red list. Based on available data, many other countries not on the red list have more positive COVID tests per 100,000 people than Pakistan. The current rate of infection in Pakistan is also reportedly lower than the UK. We would be grateful if the full data and evidence can be provided to show why these specific countries have been added to the red list and provide an urgent clarification of the decision-making process.
We would also like to know if the Government has a roadmap of how countries are added and removed from the red list to see the consistency of how this is applied.
We would also be grateful if the Government could clarify when the next review date will be for removing countries from the red list, so that constituents can make realistic travel plans. Last year, we note that countries were added and removed from the travel corridor list following regular reviews and in light of emerging evidence.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and we look forward to your response.