What’s it like being stuck abroad during the Covid Lockdown?

Throughout summer many UK residents were stuck abroad due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

The UK and many other countries went into lockdown earlier this year placing quarantine restrictions on holidaymakers returning to Britain.

But what is it really like being stuck abroad?

TUXtra reporter Maryam Ali talked to a Teessiders who got stuck in Pakistan for the majority of their summer. 

Mr and Mrs Shafiq, from Stockton on Tees, went on holiday to Turkey for a week, then proceeded to stay with family in Pakistan for a further 6 weeks.

The couple  finally arrived back in the UK after not seeing their children and grandchildren for  four  months  due to the quarantine restrictions.

Mr and Mrs Shafiq at the airport


“I am very happy to be back with my family as I missed home a lot, especially my mum, children and grandchildren. They really make home, home.” said Mrs Shafiq.

“As well as missing my family very dearly, I have many health problems, one of them being Diabetes, so my medicine was very hard to get hold of out there and it was also quite expensive.”

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the couple had to wait a little bit longer until they could embrace their family, by having to quarantine for two weeks in a separate rented house.

Mrs Shafiq said: “We started travelling towards the end of February, our journey to Turkey was no hassle, but travelling from Turkey to Pakistan was a bit different than usual.”

The Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

“Everyone’s temperatures were checked continuously throughout the travelling process, face masks were worn, hand sanitiser was to be on us at all times and forms were filled to check where we had been in the past 10 days.”

“I can happily say that everything was very organised and the flight staff and crew were very helpful with the fact that I was being transported via wheelchair. The employees made everything a lot less anxiety provoking.

“Our flights were cancelled for our journey home, therefore we had to buy new tickets from a different airline. As you can imagine with what is going on currently, we had to pay double the amount we usually would have paid, because seats were restricted.


At their home in Pakistan

“We were very fortunate to be staying in our family home in Pakistan, where we were safe and settled. However, the news coverage that was unfolding about COVID-19 made us very worried for our family, including my mother, siblings, kids and grandkids, who were in the UK waiting for us.

“We were safe in Pakistan but we didn’t want to risk travelling back during heightened time like this. We were on standby. But until we were able to get a flight, I kept in contact with my family in the UK with a number of video and phone calls.

“The intention was to return to the UK on 13th April but after a long wait for flights, we arrived on 30th June. Our family members did come see us from a distance, they stood at the end of our path whilst me and my husband waved from the front door.”

Another Teesside resident, Isma Farooq, 17, Stockton on Tees, arrived in Pakistan, just before they closed their borders for 15 days.

At her home in Pakistan

The teenager went to go visit her grandparents, her mother could not travel with her, due to a medical condition. Travelling via United Emirates Airlines, her flight home was cancelled and she unfortunately did not get fully refunded. Like many others, she had to buy another ticket home, organised by her grandparents and returned to the UK in June.

Isma said: “It was a relief being able to come back to the UK as I didn’t really know if I was going to come back. The fact that I was travelling on my own, my family were worried about me. I insisted that I would be fine.”

Taken whilst on her flight to Pakistan

“I went in the middle of March and I was intending to return at the end of April . But because of the virus, I was in Pakistan for a further  two months, returning at the end of June.

“Even though I am happy to be home, I do miss my home in Pakistan and like everyone else, we don’t know when we can travel again.

Hiking in Bhains

“The army were patrolling the area for people who may have travelled from other countries such as Spain and Italy. At the time, these countries cases of COVID-19 were very high, from what I saw on the news. Individuals who were found to be from Spain or Italy were taken away to self isolate elsewhere, I did witness people being taken away to self isolate in the area I was staying in.

“I was able to go to a local dispensary, which was recommended by my grandmother. I had my temperature checked and was asked about my symptoms, I found this test much more reliable than the one I had done at the airport.

“From going to this dispensary, I had the proof, with a certificate, to show anyone who was wanting to know about my reasons to be there and if I had any symptoms.”

“The temperature checks at the airport when I arrived in Pakistan were obviously at high demand. There was a long queue and I waited quite a long time to get checked. Apart from the long queue that was in front of me, the airport was relatively empty.

“I was extremely happy in Pakistan, I created closer relationships with my cousins, I even took up a few hobbies whilst I was out there to distract myself from all the chaos that was occurring in the world. I went on regular hikes and flew kites which other members of the community did also. It really lifted spirits.”

On a rooftop in Mirpur, Azad Kashmir

“I kept on top of the news and I got notified that someone on my flight over had the virus. This meant something to me as I did feel under the weather on the flight. But I guess my body was able to fight whatever I was feeling, with the help of paracetamol.

“The air hostesses were extremely helpful and they were all wearing protective suits which showed they were taking the precautions they needed to take.”

Isma arrived back in the UK in June, but due to the government guidelines she was required to self isolate for 14 days.

She said: “I self isolated in my room until the 14 days were up. Luckily I have two bathrooms in my house so I  was assigned to use one bathroom while other members of my household used the alternative facilities.”























































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