Heathrow Airport Border Controls Leaves Passengers In Seven-Hour Queues

Expats Face ‘Up To Six Hour’ Waits at UK Covid Checkpoints image: Pixabay

Heathrow Airport Border Controls Leaves Passengers In Seven-Hour Queues.

HEATHROW AIRPORT has seen queues of up to seven hours long build-up at UK border controls. One passenger described a mother having to feed her baby on the floor, saying conditions were “not humane”.

A union for border control workers said Covid security measures designed to reduce infections was leading to inadequate staffing. Heathrow Airport said the government needed to make sure there were enough staff to cope with demand.

Alicia, 26, who did not want her surname used, was flying back from Vienna after attending a medical appointment for her leg. She said she began queuing to go through border control at 18:30 on Sunday evening but did not get through until 01:30 on Monday.

“I felt really unsafe,” she said. “It was really disorganised. One mother had to feed her baby on the floor. It’s not humane.” Alicia added: “The staff didn’t offer any chairs, there was no social distancing. Only about three or four people were checking documents.”

Several passengers said that they had spent five, six or seven hours waiting at the border on Sunday evening with just a few border force officials processing their paperwork.

A worker in the immigration department at Heathrow, who asked not to be named, said the situation was chaotic. “It’s a mess. We cannot deploy without breaching health and safety measures. We are short-staffed anyway. What are you meant to do?”

Lucy Moreton, general secretary of ISU, the union for Borders and Immigration, said the queues were caused by Covid restrictions imposed by Border Force, which is part of the Home Office.

She said that staff have been put into bubbles of 10 people to reduce the risk of cross-infection, but that this prevents more staff from being deployed when the border becomes busy.

“Staff are very upset about the measure,” said Ms Moreton. “They have been receiving verbal abuse as the queues have got longer. The measure is not necessary, it contributes to the queues and it doesn’t stop infection as staff have to interact outside those bubbles in other areas of the site,” she said.


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Tony Winterburn

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