Border officials in England will no longer have to routinely check new arrivals from green and amber list countries, according to The Guardian.
The newspaper received a leaked memo from Border Force sources which stated that officers do not need to verify if arrivals have received a negative Covid test, have booked a day two or day eight test, or have filled in a passenger locator form.
Additionally, the staff (who have remained anonymous) stated that the eGates “will no longer refer passengers to in-person checks by Border Force officers if a passenger locator form is not found”.
The sources said that the changes were brought in due to “fears of a surge in arrivals and significantly increased queue times”.
As of this week, fully vaccinated UK travellers returning to England from “amber list” countries will no longer have to quarantine (with the exception of France, which has been placed in an ‘amber plus’ category). Eligible travellers will still need to take a pre-departure test three days before boarding their flight, as well taking a Day 2 test (which can be carried any time on or before day 2) on arrival.
But they will no longer be required to take the Day 8 test, meaning that the rules for fully vaccinated travellers arriving from amber list countries will effectively be the same as for all travellers arriving from green list destinations.
Earlier this year Heathrow Airport warned that travellers returning to the UK may face six-hour queues when international travel restarts due to the checks of paperwork at border control, while IATA warned that airport processing times could reach eight hours per trip as traffic recovers, unless governments move quickly to adopt digitised solutions for Covid-19 checks.
A government spokesperson said:
“Our utmost priority is protecting the health of the public and our enhanced borders regime is helping reduce the risk of new variants being transmitted.
“All passenger locator forms are still being checked by carriers, as they are legally required to do, and to suggest otherwise is wrong. This legal requirement on carriers is underpinned by a robust compliance regime, which is overseen by regulators.
“Compliance with these rules is essential in order to protect the population from new variants of Covid-19, and so there will be tough fines for those who do not follow the rules.”