Covid status may no longer be verified on visitors returning to England from countries on the green and amber lists.
Officers from the Border Force no longer have to check if new arrivals have received a negative Covid test, have scheduled a test within the next few days, or have a passenger locating form with an address where they can isolate if necessary.
According to a leaked Border Force memo obtained by The Guardian and confirmed by the ISU border workers union, the change took effect on Monday.
When the computer system failed to find a passenger locating form, the newspaper stated it had seen a leaked document telling border agents they didn’t have to look for one any longer.
According to reports, the document also affirmed that electronic border gates will be used. “will no longer refer passengers to in-person checks by Border Force officers if a passenger locator form is not found”.
Prior to this, Border Force agents were directed to inspect 100 percent of passenger Covid documents at the border, which some have blamed for up to six-hour lines.
According to the ISU: “It does appear that Border Force staff at least at major locations have been told not to check for Covid-secure documentation.”
Instead, airlines will be scrutinized to ensure that customers have completed all required paperwork and have tested negative for Covid-19 before flying.
The ISU’s Lucy Moreton confirmed the accuracy of the purported document.
According to the BBC, she stated: “Ultimately this is a political decision.
“Certainly, it will reduce queue times significantly and hopefully also the level of verbal abuse to which Border Force staff are subject.
“That is welcome to us. The impact on the UK’s Covid security is ultimately a scientific determination.”
According to the Financial Times, any relaxation of inspections would make sense because airlines are already responsible for checking passenger documentation. If airlines allow passengers to fly without proper documentation, they risk being fined.
Airlines UK, a trade association, stated: “Carriers are committed to working with Border Force on these requirements, which is why compliance has remained consistently extremely high.”
According to a government spokesperson, “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.”
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