British border officials have been instructed to stop routinely checking whether travelers from many countries have tested negative for COVID-19.
The ISU, representing Britain’s border, immigration and customs workers, confirmed to Euronews that the new policy applies to people arriving from the so-called green and amber list countries under the government’s international travel traffic light system.
This change is intended to reduce airport immigration waiting times and ISU hopes to reduce verbal violence against border personnel.
However, the move is raising concerns about an influx of coronavirus cases at a time when infection rates are already skyrocketing across the country.
The Guardian first reported on the policy change, citing leaked government memos. The change, which took effect on Monday, said border officials will no longer have to check that new arrivals have tested negative for COVID-19, have booked for the next few days, and have a passenger locator form with the address to be quarantined. If you need.
The UK government has not commented on the leaked documents, but insists airlines require travelers to check all necessary requirements before boarding a flight, including passenger locating forms, test bookings and immunization status.
“Our top priority is to protect public health, and a strengthened border system is helping to reduce the risk of spreading new strains,” a government spokesperson added.
“Abiding by these rules is essential to protect the population from new strains of COVID-19, so those who do not follow the rules will be subject to strong fines.”
Can all travelers check the news?
A British traveler returning to the UK from amber-listed Palermo, Italy, confirmed to Euronews that he flew to Stansted Airport on the evening of Monday 19 July. Her PCR tests were confirmed before boarding in Palermo, but when she arrived in Stansted she was not asked to show evidence of a negative test, only her passport was checked.
Lucy Moreton, a professional union executive representing border, immigration and customs workers, also confirmed that employees were instructed not to challenge COVID-19 documents.
“This will undoubtedly reduce waiting times and increase the level of verbal and physical violence experienced by border guards at the hands of disappointed passengers,” Moreton told Euronews. “That’s welcome from that point of view.”
However, she cautioned that carrying out testing by airlines alone may not be sufficient to prevent some travelers who may not be tested and may be infected.
“The initial assumption when these tests were introduced in the summer of 2020 was that border guards were aiming to inspect only about 10% of arrivals. But the non-compliance was so high that ministers instructed that they inspect 100% of arrivals.” she explained
“Border forces still encounter hundreds of arrivals every day or do not fully follow them,” she warned. “These travelers will no longer be able to verify their identities.”
(Edit: This story has been edited to correct the headline that border COVID-19 testing is not performed upon arrival from green and amber countries rather than red and amber countries.)
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