Brits to face shorter border queues as covid data can now be checked through eGates

SUNSEEKERS coming back to the UK will face shorter queues at the border as Covid data can now be processed by eGates.

Arrivals at Heathrow and Gatwick will be able to use the ultra fast gates when landing in the UK after government techies synched them up with passenger locator forms which carry passengers Covid details.

Last month officials said holiday makers faced queues of up to SIX hours if every form had to be checked manually.

But this automated system will dramatically cut queuing times.

Trials have been ongoing for the past few months, but now Home Office officials are confident in the technology.

It means people will be able to swiftly pass into the UK while Border Force officials can still monitor 100 per cent of arrivals.

It will ease pressure on staff.

The gates at Heathrow are able to link passenger locator forms and passport details, meaning every passenger is checked automatically rather that in person which is far more time consuming.

A Home Office Spokesperson said:“We are taking steps to ensure that queue times at the border are reduced as far as possible.

“This includes ensuring the Passenger Locator Form, which passengers (unless exempt) must complete before travelling to the UK, is improved and simplified to make completing it as easy as possible.

“We have updated our border technology so Border Force officers can check that passengers have completed their online form by scanning their passport.

“And we are also upgrading e-gates to carry out the new biosecurity checks for international travel. These e-gates are now operational at Heathrow (Terminals 2 and 5) and Gatwick and further e-gates will come on-line as and when they successfully complete testing.”

Officials at the border will be tasked with a range of checks to make sure Covid doesn't take hold in the UK again.

They must check Covid tests, vaccine certificates and documents for every passenger.

Last month Baroness McGregor-Smith, who chairs the UK’s Airport Operators Association, said Border Force desks are being left unstaffed due to "government choices" that were leading to six-hour queues at airports.

She blasted Downing Street for “failure to manage the border properly” and not digitising Covid document checks to speed-up travel.

It comes as more green list countries are expected to be added to the list this Thursday, allowing Brits to travel without quarantining when returning to the UK.

There are just 12 countries, many of which remain closed to Brits.

Only Portugal and Gibraltar are the popular holiday hotspots on the list which are welcoming Brits with few restrictions.

However, there is hope that more countries could be added this week, to open by next week, which also hopes to include the US.

Travel expert Paul Charles, from the PC agency said: "The next green list review is due by Thursday 3rd June with implementation from Monday 7th June.

"Several criteria determine a country’s colour but two are key: 14-day infection rate and ability to do regular genomic sequencing, to check for variants."

Malta is also likely to be added – after missing out on the initial green list – with high vaccine rates and just 25 cases per 100,000.

However, Brits wanting to book a holiday abroad should be aware that travel restrictions can change at the last minute, and to check their travel insurance for Covid protection.

Only countries on the green list are able to skip the UK quarantine when returning to the country.

Amber list arrivals, which includes most of Europe, must self-isolate for 10-days at home, as well as pay for two Covid tests to be taken on day two and day eight.

Red list arrivals, which includes India, Turkey and the Maldives, must pay £1,750 to self-isolate at a government-mandated quarantine hotel for 10 days.

All UK arrivals must have a pre-arrival Covid test and one taken on day two of returning.

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