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Airline passengers flying from ‘red list’ destinations are avoiding costly £1,750 UK quarantine

Backdoor to Britain (via Turkey): How airline passengers flying from ‘red list’ destinations are avoiding costly £1,750 UK quarantine by staying for 10 days in Istanbul hotels for a quarter of price

  • Rules state people returning to UK from red list countries need hotel quarantine 
  • But UK regulations only impact people coming from red list areas in last ten days
  • It means people are flying to non-red list destinations on the way back
  • They stay there for ten days at fraction of the cost before flying home 

Travellers returning to the UK from red list countries that would need them to quarantine here at a cost of up to £1,750 are saving money by doing a ten-day stint in Turkey.

Passengers coming back from places like Pakistan, India and Bangladesh would ordinarily need to stay in government-approved hotels when they got back for the huge price.

But the rules only require quarantine if people have been in red list countries for the past ten days before arrival.

It means savvy tourists have now been staying in non-red lister Turkey for the same period at a cost of as little as £450.

After the stay they are able to fly back and isolate at home all within the government’s strict rules.

The way passengers from red list countries are beating having to expensively quarantine

Bradford businessman Mohammad Saad said he had travelled to Pakistan March 23 for his nephew’s funeral and had been due to fly home on April 10.

He and his son stayed in a hotel in Turkey for ten days on the way back costing nearly a quarter of the UK quarantine price.

Mr Saad told the BBC: ‘It’s like an extra holiday.

‘Then you can fly back into the UK from Istanbul without any hotel quarantine.’

Many are flying from red list countries but are then staying in Istanbul for ten days

Many are flying from red list countries but are then staying in Istanbul for ten days

Which countries are on the UK red list? 

If you have been in or through any of the countries listed below in the previous 10 days, you will be refused entry to the UK.

If you are a British or Irish National, or you have residence rights in the UK, you will be able to enter. You must quarantine in a government approved hotel for 10 days.

Current red list countries: Angola, Argentina, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Democratic, Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Eswatini, Ethiopia, French Guiana, Guyana, India, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Suriname, Tanzania, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Student Hashir, 21, returned from Pakistan and did the same thing with other British nationals.

He said: ‘There’s no way I have that money, I’m a university student,’ 

And one Leeds taxi driver, 45, said: ‘I paid £100 for 11 nights.

‘It’s a double bed, a TV and a fridge.

‘It was online and food was very cheap.’

Travel agents have been booking clients into rooms in Turkey to help them cut costs of quarantine.

Ascher Khawaja of Bradford’s Oltrax Travel said: ‘I’ve got customers who can’t afford to come back.

‘With the hotel factored in, it works out at around £600 compared to £1,700-plus,’ he said.

Department for Transport chiefs confirmed people who had not been in a red list country for the past 10 days were not prevented from entering the UK – but should isolate at home. 

Guidance states: ‘If you have been in or through any of the countries listed below in the previous 10 days, you will be refused entry to the UK.

‘If you are a British or Irish National, or you have residence rights in the UK, you will be able to enter. You must quarantine in a government approved hotel for 10 days.

‘If you do not travel in or through a country on the list in the 10 days before you arrive in England, you’ll need to quarantine in the place you’re staying.’

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