Government urged to halt ‘chaotic scenes’ at airports

(Fiona Brett/PA) (PA Media)
16:13pm, Wed 04 Aug 2021
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MPs have called on the Government to halt “chaotic scenes” at airports and take action to prevent new coronavirus variants entering the UK.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Coronavirus issued the plea ahead of the next review of the green, amber and red travel lists, which is expected to be announced on Thursday.

It expressed concern that people returning to the UK from red list locations by connecting flights are still mixing with other arrivals at airports.

Research commissioned by the group found that only 13% of positive tests from red list passengers were checked for variants in the three weeks to June 30, falling to 3% for travellers from amber destinations.

Urgent action is needed to prevent an even more dangerous variant taking root in the UK

There have also been reports of long queues at Heathrow Airport due to Border Force staff shortages.

Caroline Lucas, vice-chair of the APPG, said: “The Government’s border policy is leading to chaotic scenes at UK airports and leaving the country dangerously exposed to new variants.

“The surge in the Delta variant was a direct result of the failure to secure our borders, yet ministers are still repeating the same mistakes.

“Urgent action is needed to prevent an even more dangerous variant taking root in the UK, including sequencing positive tests and separating all red list arrivals.”

Passengers arriving in the UK from amber destinations are required to self-isolate at home for 10 days, although those who are fully vaccinated are exempt.

All travellers entering from green list locations do not have to self-isolate, while those returning from a red list country must enter a quarantine hotel.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters during a visit to Scotland that “I know how important holidays are to people”.

“People think about them, they save up for them, people yearn to go abroad this year – I totally get that,” he said.

“We’ve got to balance that against the need to protect our country against the influx of of new variants.

“We’ve got a balanced policy but clearly we have the benefit now of the double-jab system that is enabling us to … come from the countries in the EU, without having to quarantine, and the same goes for the US.”

France was put on an “amber plus” list last month, which means even fully vaccinated passengers must self-isolate at home on arrival.

But it is expected to be announced on Thursday that the list will be shelved and France will return to amber status.

The idea of an “amber watchlist” featuring destinations at risk of being moved on to the red list has been scrapped.

There had been speculation that Spain could be added to such a list – or even put in the red tier – but The Times reported it will remain on the amber list following a fall in coronavirus cases.

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy, The PC Agency, said his analysis suggests 16 countries should be added to the green list.

These are: Austria, Bhutan, Bosnia, Canada, Czech Republic, French Polynesia, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Saudi Arabia.

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