Travellers without negative Covid-19 tests are being fined and waived through border controls into the UK, despite Britons in a similar situation abroad being turned back.
Some 30 air passengers have so far been fined £500 each after they arrived in the UK without the correct certificate showing a negative PCR, lateral flow or LAMP test result from within 72 hours of departure.
The Home Office confirmed that they had been let on their way – meaning dozens of people possibly with Covid-19 could have been let into the UK since the rules requiring pre-departure tests were introduced at 4am on Monday this week.
By contrast, Britons who arrived in Spain and Italy without the proper documentation or PCR tests were sent back on their planes in a series of incidents over the festive period.
It also emerged that the airlines which allowed passengers to fly without appropriate negative test results also face fines, of up to £2,000 per traveller.
They are required under the Government’s new regulations to refuse boarding to anyone who does not have the correct documentation.
The disclosure prompted calls for the Government to introduce quarantine hotels – as Australia and New Zealand operate – for passengers who failed to show negative tests, in order to reduce the risk of them spreading the virus.
“They could be carrying the virus and should not be let further into the country,” said Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency.
“It shows the rules are not watertight. The Government should make them tighter and introduce quarantine hotels for those that don’t have the correct paperwork.”
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The passengers entering without a negative test are still required to quarantine for 10 days and can be fined up to £10,000 for breaches. However, there have been concerns about compliance, with some 25 per cent breaching the rules, according to official data.
Hada Moreno, 48, a researcher, was one of the first to receive a £500 fine after arriving at Heathrow from Menorca in Spain without a negative test result.
She said that after contracting Covid-19 in Spain, she was told she could not have a test as the virus remained in her bloodstream. Instead, she was given documents explaining her problem and to enable her to fly, and was in hospital for eight days before being discharged with an official note.
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"I passed three sets of controls in Spain but when I landed at Heathrow the police officers were very clear that this contravened the requirements. They insisted it had to be a PCR test within the last 72 hours.
“I was told that it was the first day of the new procedure and they had no choice other than to issue a fine. I do have faith in the system that they are going to carry out a full review.”
It follows complaints over the past two days that passengers have been unable to social distance in Heathrow’s arrival halls as queues built up for travellers’ PCR and other documents to be checked by Border Force officials.