A PRIVATE company is to carry out 10,000 home visits every day to check Brits are complying with holiday quarantine rules, it is claimed.
The Home Office has hired Mitie to increase the number of checks per day ten-fold, with just 1,000 carried out at present.
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The number of checks being made is putting a big burden on border officialsCredit: The Sun
It is one of several steps being taken to crack down on quarantine rule breakers, The Times reports.
Travellers arriving at Heathrow already face significant delays due to coronavirus checks at the border – despite non-essential travel being banned.
Between 10,000 and 15,000 people are landing every day – 10 to 15 per cent of pre-pandemic numbers.
But arrivals will be be forced to queue for up to six hours when restrictions on international travel are relaxed from May 17, an airport executive said.
Chief solutions officer Chris Garton told MPs that “the situation is becoming untenable” and the police have been forced to step in.
Travellers are queueing for up to six hours at the border after arriving at HeathrowCredit: Louis Wood News Group Newspaper Ltd
Giving evidence to the Commons Transport Select Committee, he explained that wait times in recent days have typically been “well in excess of two hours and up to six hours”.
He said: “We’re starting to see disruption in some of the arriving passengers.
“If you’re made to queue for two or three hours, it’s not something you want to do, and we’re even having to involve the police service to help us.”
Mr Garton went on: “What’s happened is a whole host of new checks – 100% checking of everybody – has been introduced, and that obviously has put a tremendous burden on the officers who work at the border.
“The Home Office has not provided them with additional officers.”
He told the committee the resources for processing passengers at the border “always was a problem”, but the pandemic “has just made that so much worse than it was before”.
He continued: “We want to see that bottleneck removed as quickly as possible.
“It’s a problem today, it will become a much bigger problem after May 17 (when foreign leisure travel from England could resume).”
Mr Garton said the “solution” is to enable passengers to ensure their entry to the UK is “assured” before they begin their journey.
Errors on passenger locator forms should be spotted and corrected in advance, and eGates should be able to check the documents automatically, he told MPs.
This would allow arriving travellers to “flow as you would normally through the eGates rather than having to line up and present your paperwork to a rather overstretched border official”, Mr Garton added.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman defended the queues, saying Border Force is “completing thorough checks of every arriving passenger” which is “the approach the public would expect”.
He added that the Government will ensure there are “sufficient measures there and resources available” when international leisure travel resumes.
Restrictions on international travel are set to be lifted from May 17Credit: The Sun
People who are still travelling for essential reasons, such as work or education, must have three negative coronavirus tests – taken before departure, and on day two and day eight of quarantine.
The two tests taken during the quarantine period must be booked through the government portal, before departure, costing £210 for both.
A Passenger Locator Form must also be completed, with up to ten years in prison for providing false information.
Most arrivals can quarantine at home for 10 days, or five days if taking a fourth Covid test through the Test to Release scheme.
However, arrivals from a “high-risk” country which includes the UAE, South American and South African nations, must pay £1,750 and quarantine at a government-mandated hotel for 10 days.
The government is launching a traffic light system for travel when holidays abroad are finally permitted, but they have not yet revealed when that will be – the earliest date being from May 17.
Countries will be categorised as green, amber or red, with different rules based on where you are travelling to and from.