Police are told not to punish tourists for flouting quarantine as cracks in the new measures appear on their first day of operation
- All UK arrivals have to fill in ‘contact locator’ form saying where they will isolate
- However police will take ‘no immediate action’ if a false address has been given
- A border source said most passengers have not filled in the forms in advance
Serious cracks appeared in the quarantine measures on their first day of operation yesterday.
All arrivals to the UK – including Britons – must now fill in an online ‘contact locator’ form setting out where they will live for a fortnight. Refusal to do so risks a £1,000 fine.
But last night it emerged police will take ‘no immediate action’ even if a passenger has been found to have given a false address.
One border source said: ‘It’s been a complete farce. The vast majority of passengers have not filled in forms in advance.
One border source said: ‘It’s been a complete farce. The vast majority of passengers have not filled in forms in advance.’ Pictured: Passengers crowding to fill in their forms at Heathrow
Those who have filled it in are given an online reference number, but immigration officers can’t log in to check whether that form has been filled in properly.’
The source added: ‘It’s been impossible to socially distance in the Heathrow arrivals halls because so many people have been milling around.
‘There’s been trouble at Heathrow and at Calais and Coquelles, where the UK border checks take place for the Channel Tunnel. It’s a mess.’
The scheme was further undermined last night as the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) issued guidance which revealed the light touch forces will adopt when checking up on travellers during quarantine.
Even if a false address appears to have been given, police should take ‘no immediate further action’, the guidelines say, and the case simply referred to the UK Border Force.
If police visit an address where someone is supposed to be self-isolating and there is no answer, the NPCC says further visits are ‘suggested’ but there should again be ‘no immediate further action by police’.
That case should be referred to Public Health England.
And if police discover someone at a different address to the one they gave on their form, they should only remove the person to their given address ‘as a last resort’.
An NPCC spokesman said most of the responsibility fell to Public Health England, adding: ‘Police have a limited role in quarantine regulations.’
Pictured: Passengers Guy Potter and Sarah Hartstein arrive at Terminal 2 at Heathrow Airport in London, as new quarantine measures for international arrivals come into force
In the event of a case being referred by PHE to the police for action, he added: ‘We will seek to establish the circumstances and we will continue our approach of engaging, explaining, encouraging and, only as a last resort, enforcing.’
Passengers arriving at Stansted on a flight from Eindhoven in the Netherlands criticised the measures yesterday.
Ali Gurlek, 30, a software developer from London, said the measures ‘lacked common sense’ because he was about to travel home on public transport – as allowed under the rules.
At the Eurostar terminal at St Pancras, Sylvain Preumont, 50, a business manager who makes a weekly round-trip from Paris, said as a frequent traveller he was exempt but that he was no fan of the policy.
‘It makes no sense,’ he said. ‘This was invented to reassure people… to please them, and then we realise that it is not feasible.’
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said measures were needed at the border but quarantine was a ‘blunt instrument’.
‘We have got the situation where – weeks ago – other countries put quarantine in and we didn’t,’ he told LBC Radio.
‘Now as everybody’s lifting it we’re putting it in. I would much prefer to see some sort of testing regime at the airport.’
British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair have sent a pre-action letter, the first step in an application for judicial review, which argues the restrictions are disproportionate.
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