Controversial coronavirus guidelines mean that thousands of foreign tourists are allowed to travel into the UK each day despite the fact Brits are banned from leaving the country.
As we ease our way out of our ongoing third national lockdown, government guidelines state that it is currently ‘illegal to travel abroad for holidays’.
The government website explains that ‘no travel is risk-free’, and that ‘if you are in the UK you should not travel abroad unless you have a permitted reason to do so’, with ‘reasonable excuses’ including the need to travel for work.
In spite of the restrictions being faced by Brits, figures compiled by Border Force staff have revealed that of around 20,000 people arriving in the country every day, approximately 40%, or 8,000, are tourists.
Data cited by The Times, per the Mail Online, indicates the proportion of tourists to locals arriving at British ports is around 20-30% at Heathrow, while at Gatwick and Eurostar terminals it rises to 80% or 90%.
Hundreds of the travellers are arriving on tourist visas issued by the Home Office, one of which was issued to a tourist from Peru who reportedly said on their application form that they wanted to come to the UK to ‘visit Big Ben’.
Passengers entering the country have to have a form declaring that their trip is allowed, but Border Force staff have said they have no powers to deny entry as long as they have followed necessary testing and quarantine requirements. Travellers must have a negative coronavirus test upon entering the country.
Commenting on the situation, a member of Border Force staff said:
There are hundreds upon hundreds of arrivals up and down the UK every day from people who are basically coming here on a two-week holiday.
There are no grounds to refuse them — arriving during a pandemic isn’t one of them.
As long as they’ve got an address where they say they’ll quarantine, and they’ve completed their pre-departure tests, they’ve got their certificates and everything else, they’ve got means and a return ticket, we’ve got no grounds to refuse them.
In response to the news, Kevin Foster, minister for future borders and immigration, claimed the organisation does ‘not recognise these figures’.
We are enforcing tough health measures at the border for the small minority of people coming to the UK, including those entering on a visitor visa for legitimate reasons.
Since January 2021, we have paused all decisions on visitor visas to applicants applying from a ‘red list’ country or where it is apparent an applicant has visited one of those countries in the last ten days.
Border Force officers also have the right to refuse entry to any visitor who they believe has travelled to the UK to carry out activities not permitted under current local health restrictions, such as holidays or tourism, or who will not comply with self-isolation and testing requirements.
In a statement to the Mail Online, the Immigration Services Union said the controversial rules ‘not only [undermine] the Government’s stated tougher approach to our borders but also seriously damages staff morale when visitors have to be admitted to visit with friends and family where staff have been prohibited from doing so, something for over a year’.
Current government guidelines means Brits will not be permitted to go on international holidays until May 17 at the earliest.
If you’ve been affected by coronavirus and want up to date advice, visit the Gov.uk help page here. If you need medical help call NHS 111 or visit online.
Topics: News, Airport, Boris Johnson, COVID-19, government, Holiday, Now, Restrictions, Travel