Travellers returning to England warned of “disruption” and long airport queues when Covid restrictions ease
Travellers returning to England from holidays abroad are being warned of travel disruption and long queues at airports when restrictions begin to ease.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced on Thursday (8 July) that fully vaccinated travellers returning to England from countries on the amber list will not have to self-isolate from 19 July.
‘People should expect more disruption than usual’
The Transport Secretary warned that travellers should “expect more disruption than usual” due to coronavirus-related inspections.
He said that most of the queuing will be before departure back to England, with airlines checking passenger locator forms, and whether travellers have taken a pre-departure test and booked a post-arrival test.
Mr Shapps told BBC Breakfast: “So the place to expect queues is the airport you are coming from. Once you get back to the UK all of that is starting to be automated.
“People should expect more disruption than usual but I know that everyone is working very hard to minimise those queues.”
Mr Shapps also said ministers are “actively working” on accepting vaccination certificates from other countries after it emerged only passengers with NHS-issued jabs would be exempt.
However, the Immigration Service Union has said those returning to England from abroad could face peak-time airport queues of up to six hours when travel measures are eased, due to the "sheer number" of passengers arriving and a shortage of Border Force officers slowing down checks.
The union - which represents border staff - also warned of delays because, while electronic gates are being adapted, “not all of them are available and not everywhere”.
Spokeswoman Lucy Moreton said peak queues are currently up to two hours, but that this could increase to six hours with the Covid inspections, which must be carried out by UK border staff regardless of airline checks, taking around three times longer.
Ms Moreton told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s a political decision to check 100% of Covid arrivals and that largely is the problem here.”
She also warned of more staffing shortages before self-isolation rules are changed for double-jabbed Covid contacts on 16 August.