U.K. Reportedly to Stop Checking COVID Documentation for Visitors From Some Countries

Border officers from the United Kingdom will stop checking COVID documentation, such as proof of a negative test, for travelers from certain countries, according to leaked government documents reported on by British media Wednesday. The rule pertains to travelers entering the U.K. from green and amber list countries, which represent the two highest ranks in the government's three-tiered classification system for foreign travel, the Associated Press reported.

The U.K. government recently eased quarantine protocols for amber list countries, which include most of Europe. The change triggered concerns that airport immigration lines would take hours for holiday travelers to get through, according to the AP.

The order to stop checking the COVID documentation of travelers from specific countries was a response to these concerns, the Guardian reported, as it would expedite the immigration check process for certain people. Legally, every traveler entering the U.K. is still expected to complete a passenger locator form and have a negative COVID-19 test under their belt.

While the rule may mitigate lengthy immigration lines, it has generated fears of additional COVID spread as case numbers in the country surge. The U.K. documented more than 46,000 new cases Tuesday, with the seven-day average nearing 47,000 new cases every day, according to an aggregate of data on the Johns Hopkins University 2019 Novel Coronavirus Visual Dashboard.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

U.K. Border Checks
In this file photo dated Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, a plane comes in to land near a government coronavirus information sign at Heathrow Airport in London. According to new reports Wednesday July 21, 2021, citing leaked government documents, U.K. border officers have been directed to stop routinely checking whether travellers from many countries have tested negative for COVID-19. Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP Photo

Beginning this week, fully vaccinated people traveling from most amber-list countries are no longer required to self-isolate after they arrive in Britain. Travelers arriving from France still have to self-isolate, even though it is an amber destination, because of concern about virus variants circulating there. Anyone traveling from a red list country must quarantine at a government-approved hotel at their own expense.

The government declined to comment on the leak, but stressed that airlines are still required to check coronavirus documentation before passengers board aircraft, the Guardian reported.

Lucy Moreton, professional officer for the union that represents border, immigration and customs workers, said Border Force staff have also been told not to challenge COVID documentation.

"Certainly it will reduce queue times significantly and hopefully also the level of verbal abuse to which Border Force staff are subject,'' Moreton told the BBC. "That is welcome to us. The impact on the U.K.'s COVID security is ultimately a scientific determination."

UK Social Distancin
Despite changes to Covid regulations passengers at Westminster use the tube much the same as they have over the last 16 months instead today, choosing to wear face coverings and trying to observe social distance where possible on July 19, 2021 in London, United Kingdom. As of 12:01 on Monday, July 19, England will drop most of its remaining Covid-19 social restrictions, such as those requiring indoor mask-wearing and limits on group gatherings, among other rules. These changes come despite rising infections, pitting the country's vaccination programme against the virus's more contagious Delta variant. Martin Pope/Getty Images