Covid checks for passengers arriving from green and amber list countries into England may no longer be carried out, it has been reported.
Leaked instructions to Border Force staff said officials will no longer routinely verify if returning travellers tested negative before departure or completed a passenger locator form, The Guardian reports.
What are the changes?
The change, which the Immigration Services Union (ISU) said came into effect on Monday, is aimed at reducing queue times at airports.
Under the current rules, all passengers into the UK must provide a negative Covid test taken before departure, regardless of where they are travelling from.
They must also carry out another test two days after their arrival, and complete a passenger locator form with details such as an address.
‘It will reduce queue times’
Lucy Moreton, professional officer for the ISU, which represents border immigration and customs staff in the UK, said the leak is accurate.
She added that Border Force staff have also been told not to challenge Covid documentation “even if it is recorded on the system that the documentation has not been completed”.
Ms Moreton said: “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.”
What the government said
A Government spokesman 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.”