Covid paperwork 'will be digitally linked to passport to slash queues'
Vaccination records ‘will be digitally linked to British passports’ to slash queues at airports this summer
- Border Force working on plans to digitally link Covid paperwork to passports
- The initiative would enable UK airports to reopen quicker passport e-gates
- Fears keeping current system of checks could lead to 10 hour queues at border
Coronavirus paperwork required for international travel will be digitally linked to passports in a bid to reduce queues at the border when holidays resume, it was claimed today.
Border Force is said to be working on plans which would see passport e-gates able to automatically check if someone has the correct documents for entry into the UK.
It is hoping to have the system in place by the middle of this summer but MPs and travel bosses are pushing for it to be done more quickly.
They have warned that if the face-to-face checking of documents has to continue when international travel starts again then travellers could end up suffering ten hour queues at the border.
Border Force is said to be working on plans which would see passport e-gates able to automatically check if someone has the correct documents for entry into the UK
Boris Johnson’s lockdown exit roadmap states non-essential international trips will resume from May 17 at the earliest
Boris Johnson’s lockdown exit roadmap states non-essential international trips will resume from May 17 at the earliest.
But there are concerns about how the border will cope after reports of six hour long queues during lockdown when airports have been dealing with far fewer passengers than normal.
Passport e-gates for arrivals have been shut since February after the Government rolled out tougher coronavirus border checks.
Reopening the electronic gates is seen as the key to avoiding lengthy queues when holidays return.
The Times said Border Force’s plans would see coronavirus paperwork like passenger locator forms and proof of a negative test digitally linked to travel passports.
The e-gate would be able to scan the passport and automatically check and then log the linked details so that quarantine rules can be enforced.
Ministers are said to be confident that e-gates will be able to be reopened by August.
But MPs and travel bosses want them to be reopened much sooner than that to avoid overcrowding and long waits.
Paul Charles, chief executive of the travel consultancy PC Agency, told The Times: ‘We’re forecasting 100,000 per day will enter the UK initially from May 17, so e-gates will have to reopen to cope with the demand.
‘Otherwise you’re going to see queues of much longer than six hours this summer. It could easily be ten hours.’
Layla Moran, chairwoman of the all-party parliamentary group on coronavirus and a Lib Dem MP, said ministers needed to take ‘urgent action’ to prevent airports becoming the UK’s ‘Achilles’ heel’.
‘This includes measures to reduce overcrowding in arrival halls, improve social distancing and make sure passengers arriving from red-list countries are kept separate,’ she said.
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