Edinburgh family stranded in Pakistan unable to pay mandatory hotel quarantine fee

A family who was due to arrive home to Edinburgh on Sunday had their flight cancelled and are now trapped abroad unable to pay the £4350 required to return home.

Wednesday, 17th February 2021, 1:47 pm
Saisal Faisal is currently stranded in Lahore, Pakistan with his wife and their three children.

Faisal Hamid, 47, from Little France flew to Lahore, Pakistan in January to attend the funeral of his mother following her unexpected death.

Mr Hamid was accompanied by his wife Aysha Hamid, 41 and their three daughters Alisha, 20, Aliza, 18 and Varda, 14 who all wished to pay their last respects.

The grieving family was due to fly home to Edinburgh the day before the mandatory hotel quarantine regime came into effect.

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But their flight was cancelled and the next available flight was not until Tuesday, the day after the new regulations were rolled out.

The new rules require all travellers flying directly into Scotland on international flights to self-isolate for 10 days in a quarantine hotel room.

Unless exempt, a passenger will have to pay £1750 to quarantine in a room at one of six designated hotels with each additional family member charged £650 for their stay.

The Hamid family faces a fee of £4350 to return home which they simply cannot afford to pay.

Mr Hamid said: “This is a horrible situation to be in, If we do not get an exception we cannot afford to come home.

"I am lucky that I can work from home and the children can study online but my wife works in a local school and cannot work from here.

“I understand quarantine is very important and I am happy to follow protocol but I think it is unfair, considering my circumstances, that I have to pay for it."

The father of three added that the situation is “even more frustrating” because if they lived in England they would not be in this situation.

In England, the UK government only requires hotel quarantine for visitors from a “red list” of 33 countries designated as high risk, which Pakistan is not currently included on.

Desperate to return home the Hamid family contacted their local MP Ian Murray asking for help organising their return home.

The Labour politician said the family's situation is not unique and many people in Scotland have been impacted by the introduction of the new quarantine rules.

Mr Murray said: “Unfortunately the situation Mr Hamid finds himself in is not unique. The circumstances of his arrival were not of his making and to have him having to find thousands to quarantine with no notice is not equitable.

“The Scottish Government must sort these issues and the dozens of others that I am sure all MPs have received over the last few days. The policy should have been in place a year ago.

"These instances are as a result of the Scottish and UK Governments being too slow to introduce such a policy and then bringing it in at the last minute with little thought to how it will affect travellers. I’ll continue to help Mr Hamid where I can.”

The Scottish government have been contacted for comment.

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