Border chaos leaving UK “dangerously exposed” to new Covid variants

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Coronavirus has urged the government to fix the chaotic scenes unfolding at airports and take urgent action to prevent new Covid variants entering the UK, ahead of the next review of the travel list expected to be announced tomorrow.

It comes following a warning from the Immigration Services Union, which represents border force staff, that passengers from red list countries who have transited via a green or amber list nation are still mixing with other arrivals. Border force staff shortages due to Covid are also reportedly leading to long queues at airports.

The APPG on Coronavirus published a report in May calling on the government to introduce urgent measures to reduce overcrowding in airports, step up checks to spot fake test certificates and prevent the mixing of arrivals from green, amber and red list countries. Recent research commissioned by the APPG has found that only 13% of positive tests from red list countries and 3% from amber list countries were checked for variants in the three weeks to 30th June.

Caroline Lucas MP, vice chair of the APPG on Coronavirus, 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.”


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Notes to Editor

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Coronavirus is conducting a cross-party parliamentary inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic and has so far held 26 hearings and made over 50 recommendations. The APPG brings together 73 MPs and peers from across the political spectrum, representing all four nations and every Westminster party. The secretariat for the APPG is provided by March for Change.

Speaking to The i newspaper, Lucy Moreton of the Immigration Services Union said: “If you’ve flown from a red-list country and then transited somewhere like Amsterdam, as many flights do, then you’ll come into one of the ordinary terminals and mix the normal way with passengers from green and amber-list countries.”