| 17 May 2021, Monday | النسخة العربية

Passenger collapses at airport following 7-hour wait caused by COVID checks

A passenger collapsed at Heathrow Airport following a ‘7-hour wait’ as travelers are obliged to queue up due to COVID-19 checks at the border, it has been claimed.

Nearly 800 border staff are working at Heathrow and that all are currently in work subject to the normal reasons for absence, according to the Immigration Services Union (ISU).

Spokeswoman Lucy Moreton earlier told MailOnline the queues are taking so long because travelers cannot use eGates due to the government requirement to check 100% compliance with coronavirus border restrictions.

Footage posted online on Monday afternoon shows a woman lying on the floor of Heathrow Airport being tended to by staff – as many more passengers wait to be cleared through the border.

The video’s uploader claims the woman had collapsed following a 7-hour wait for entry clearance.

Travelers often arrived at the airport without the right documentation and that pre-pandemic a non-contentious entry for someone with the right of residence would have been 2 minutes if they did not use the eGates.

Post-pandemic with the right paperwork, that transaction time is 5 minutes, the ISU representative alleged – and that without the right paperwork that time shoots up to at least 30 minutes.

Moreton said: “The Government can choose 2 routes. Either remove the requirement for 100% checks, with all the attendant risk to national Covid security. Or compel carriers to ensure that no one arrives in the UK without having complied with the relevant requirements.”

Chris Garton, the chief solutions officer for the London airport, has told lawmakers “the situation is becoming untenable”, with wait times in recent days being ‘well in excess of 2 hours and up to 6 hours’.

Giving evidence to the Commons Transport Select Committee, he warned: “We’re starting to see disruption in some of the arriving passengers. If you’re made to queue for 2 or 3 hours, it’s not something you want to do, and we’re even having to involve the police service to help us.”

Garton went on: “What’s happened is a whole host of new checks – 100% checking of everybody – has been introduced, and that obviously has put a tremendous burden on the officers who work at the border. The Home Office has not provided them with additional officers.”

When asked to respond to the ISU’s claims, a Home Office spokesperson told MailOnline: “We are in a global health pandemic – people should not be travelling unless absolutely necessary.”