LONDON (AP) — U.K. border officers have been directed to stop routinely checking whether travelers from many countries have tested negative for COVID-19, British media reported Wednesday, citing leaked government documents.
While the change is designed to reduce waiting times for airport immigration checks, it has raised concerns about importing new coronavirus cases at a time when infection rates in the country are already soaring, the Guardian newspaper reported.
The new policy applies to people arriving from so-called green and amber list countries, the two tiers of the government’s foreign travel traffic light system which do not require arrivals to quarantine, though travelers from France have to isolate even though it is an amber country.
The government declined to comment on the leak, but stressed that airlines are still required check whether passengers have tested negative for COVID-19 and have filled out a passenger locator form before they board aircraft, the Guardian reported.
Lucy Moreton, professional officer for the union that represents border, immigration and customs workers, said Border Force staff have also been told not to challenge COVID documentation.
“Certainly it will reduce queue times significantly and hopefully also the level of verbal abuse to which Border Force staff are subject,’’ Moreton told the BBC. “That is welcome to us. The impact on the U.K.’s COVID security is ultimately a scientific determination.”