BRITS desperate for a summer holiday can finally begin planning – but there’ll be huge queues at airports, the chief of Border Force has warned.
Would-be holidaymakers eager for a sunshine break will be able to travel abroad soon, although the list of countries open for trips is very short.
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Holiday-makers returning to the UK have been warned to expect long delays as Border Force officials carry out extensive checks into ‘100 per cent’ of passengersCredit: PA
A ‘green list’ of places where travellers won’t need to isolate upon their return has been released
And they’ll have to keep their patience when they get back – with unions warning of queues of up to ten hours.
That’s because officials at the border will be tasked with a range of checks to make sure Covid doesn’t take hold in the UK again.
During a press conference from Downing Street tonight, Border Force director general Paul Lincoln said: “Unfortunately we are not back to normality yet.
“Travel will be different and, as the Transport Secretary says, we still need to be cautious.
“There will continue to be additional health checks for every person crossing our border, and inevitably that means it will take longer for most people to enter the UK.
“These measures have been put in place to protect the hard-fought gains and sacrifices that have been made by individuals and society in the UK, minimising the risk of importing variants while protecting the success of our vaccine rollout.”
Border Force workers must check Covid tests, vaccine certificates and documents for every passenger.
Mr Lincoln said it was taking on average “five to 10 minutes” to check each passenger arriving into the UK.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps warned the green list hasn’t been chosen based on Brits’ holiday preferencesCredit: AFP
However, Portugal is on the list – with bookings expected to surge tonightCredit: Getty
“For the time being, passengers will need to accept an increase in the time taken at each stage of their journey,” he said.
“It currently takes a Border Force officer five to 10 minutes to complete all the necessary checks, which means that even for the most compliant passenger, it might take 14 or 15 times longer to process than before, compared to around 25 seconds.
“Where people do not have the correct paperwork it can and has taken considerably longer, including when we need to serve fixed penalty notices for non-compliance.”
Officials are still under instruction from ministers to check “100 per cent of passengers”, he said.
However, the agency will make some paperwork digital, such as the passenger locator form, in a bid to “speed up” the process.
More staff will also be made available to carry out checks.
Portugal, Israel, Iceland, Gibraltar and Singapore are among the countries on the 12-strong ‘green list’, where a quarantine following the return to the UK isn’t needed.
New Zealand and Australia are also on the list. However, both have their own entry requirements and are unlikely to let in tourists at the moment.
Countries on the UK’s green list
Only a handful of countries are available – and some, like Australia and New Zealand, are unlikely to welcome Brits yet
- Falkland Islands
- Faroe Islands
- Israel and Jerusalem
- New Zealand
- Portugal, including the Azores and Madeira
- South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands
- St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
France, Greece and Spain are NOT yet on the green list, meaning Brits will have to wait at least another three weeks to find if they can go on holiday there this summer.
Brits are advised not to book anywhere on the amber list, just in case the situation worsens.
And tourists have been warned countries can swiftly be added to the red list if necessary – meaning a ten-day quarantine in a Government-approved hotel, at a cost of £1,750 per adult, is needed.
Turkey, the Maldives and Nepal are the latest countries to be added to the strictest list.
Announcing tonight that holidays are back on – albeit to a very specific list of countries – Mr Shapps said Brits have made “enormous progress tackling the pandemic“.
“That progress has been very hard-won – it’s been won by the speed and success of the vaccination programme, the scale of testing, and the sheer sacrifice of the British public,” he said.
“But I have to be straight with you.
“Our success in combating Covid here, with two-thirds of adults now vaccinated, is not yet replicated in many places abroad.”
And he said the list of countries available for travel isn’t based on where people “want to lie on beaches”.
“This is not a list generated and created to think about where people want to lie on beaches and then twist the science to fit it. That would be completely wrong,” he said.
“It would go against everything we have said. In fact, it would betray what everyone has gone through for the past year.”
Border Force officials must check every single passenger before allowing them back into the UK