Passengers have spoken of their concerns of catching coronavirus while queuing at Heathrow.
Photos from the airport today show crowded scenes, including in the line for immigration where people who have arrived from different flights stand together.
One man, who had travelled from America to visit family he hadn’t seen since August, shared his experience on Twitter claiming that of the 35 Border Force desks, less than 10 were staffed.
Another alleged that the airport was a ‘petri dish for mutations’.
It comes as international leisure travel was allowed to resume from today, with people now allowed to take holidays abroad guided by a ‘traffic light’ list of which countries are safer.
Steve Myall, who lives in New York, wrote: ‘Have arrived in Heathrow. Been told to join the 1hr+ queue and also that the fast tracking of families with young children is on hold.
‘Asked to go and sit somewhere while one parent queues up we’ve been directed to sit with a family who have just arrived from a Red List country.’
Responding to him, a Heathrow spokesperson said: ‘Hi Steve, we are sorry to hear this. Border Force is currently experiencing some delays as they conduct Health Measure Checks to ensure passenger compliance with the UK Government’s latest entry requirements.
‘We have raised your concern with our colleagues at Border Force, whose responsibility it is to ensure that passengers within the red listed queue remain separate from other passengers. Thank you.’
Richard Bradley wrote: ‘Just landed in Heathrow from a work trip in Vienna.
‘With the way we are being made to queue l can’t help but feel we are in a bit of a Petri dish for mutations. Surely they can make this more efficient…’
A Government spokesperson said: ‘Protecting public health is our priority and as we reopen international travel safely we will maintain 100% health checks at the border to protect the wider public and our vaccine rollout.
‘While we do this, wait times are likely to be longer and we will do all we can to smooth the process, including the roll-out of our e-Gate upgrade programme during the summer and deploying additional Border Force officers.
‘Arrangements for queues and the management of returning passengers are the responsibility of the relevant airport, which we expect to be done in a COVID-secure way.’
Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected]
For more stories like this, check our news page.