Chaos struck Heathrow Airport today as hundreds of passengers queued for more than three hours to get through passport control with no social distancing.
Passengers were left furious as they stood in line for hours at Terminals 2 and 5 to pass through stringent Covid checks at Border Control, with some calling on management to ‘get more staff on desk’.
Holidaymakers posted images of the chaos as they stood close to each other in a sprawling, giant queue, which they described as ‘brutal’.
The scenes come after Border Force officials were reportedly told they would no longer need to make Covid checks for travellers arriving to England from green and amber list countries in an effort to reduce queues.
Irate passengers said they were left queuing for more than three hours to get through passport control with no social distancing
Passengers were left furious as they stood in line for hours to pass through checks at Border Control at Terminals 2 and 5
Today disgruntled passengers took to social media to shared their frustration, with one claiming ‘only 5-6 counters out of 32 were operational’.
One person wrote: ‘We just waited three hours to get through Border Control – it’s not to make families with young children queue like this. Get more staff on desk.’
While another added: ‘I knew Heathrow Airport wait was going to be bad, but this is brutal.
‘Families with young kids forced to queue for 2, 3 hours, standing, no food or water beyond what you’ve brought off the plane. Yes, it’s border force setting the rules but it’s Heathrow controlling conditions.’
Meanwhile another holidaymaker commented: ‘Horrible experience today at Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 arrivals.
‘The immigration process took 3.5 hours not because there was a huge crowd of passengers but because only 5-6 counters out of 32 were operational.’
And another passenger said: ’23:05 Saturday night Terminal 5 horrendous queue full of families with children waiting to get through customs.’
On Twitter, Heathrow Airport said: ‘Waiting times at the border have on occasion been unacceptable and we have called on the UK Government to address the problem as a matter of urgency.’
The airport added: ‘Immigration desks/E-gates can only be operated by UK GOV officials – not airport staff.’
Last month, Border Force officers were reportedly told they no longer needed to make Covid checks on all arrivals in a bid to reduce airport queues.
According to a leaked report officials were told they no longer have to ‘routinely’ check passengers arriving from green and amber list countries.
Hundreds of holidaymakers were seen standing in close proximity to each other as they waited pass through checks at Border Control
Passengers took to social media to share their frustration, with one claiming only 5-6 counters out of 32 were operational
Arrivals currently have to provide a negative Covid test taken before departure and must complete a Passenger Locator Form within 48 hours of departure to the UK.
But, as of last month, Border Force officials no longer routinely check passengers have these documents, according to the leaked document, first reported by the Guardian.
Passport e-gates also no longer refer passengers to in-person checks by Border Force officers if a passenger locator form is not found, the paper reports.
Passenger Locator Forms are still checked by airlines ahead of travel, while the Government insists arrivals who do not comply still run the risk of being fined.
The change in policy also does not impact on red list arrivals, who must isolate in designated quarantine hotels for 10 days, at the cost of £1750, after landing in the UK.
It came as insiders reported London’s Heathrow Airport could axe up to 1,200 jobs, around a quarter of its frontline roles, as a result of a downturn in the industry due to the pandemic.
The airport has informed union officials that it was triggering a 45-day consultation period about the proposed cuts, Sky News said, citing unidentified sources.
Insiders said that a deal is still possible if unions could agree revised terms but that if an agreement wasn’t reached, approximately one-fifth of Heathrow’s total workforce of about 5,700 people could be put at risk.
The latest scenes comes as Britain recorded a further 61 Covid deaths and 33,196 more new cases on Sunday, official data showed.
The number of new cases represents a 3 per cent rise on the new daily cases from last Sunday which stood at 32,253 while only 49 daily deaths were recorded.
Infections in the last seven days rose by 5.8 per cent on the week before, and weekly deaths jumped by 16 per cent.
This means the new positive test rate over the last seven days is 240,528 while the number of deaths within 28 days of a positive test has been recorded as 797 – an increase of 110.
Meanwhile, Government data up to August 28 shows that of the 90,641,097 Covid jabs given in the UK, 48,001,316 were first doses, a rise of 42,388 on the previous day.
The number of patients admitted to hospitals today has been recorded as 969 while the figure has reached 6,294 over the last week – an increase of 6.7 per cent.
What do arrivals from green and amber list countries need to do before they travel?
– You must take a Covid test before you travel. This can be a PCR, Lamp or anti-gen but must meet specific requirements – of ≥97% specificity, ≥80% sensitivity at viral loads above 100,000 copies/ml.
– You must book and pay for a ‘Day 2’ Covid test to be taken two days after your arrival in the UK.
– You must fill out a Passenger Locator Form within 48 hours of travel
All of the above. PLUS:
– If you are NOT double vaccinated you must quarantine at home for at least 10 days. You can be released earlier if you take part in the Test and Release scheme.
– If you ARE double vaccinated you will need to declare that you have been fully UK vaccinated on your passenger locator form or you are under 18 and resident in the UK. You will need to show proof of your vaccination status to your carrier (ferry, airline or train) when you travel.