Passengers were reportedly queuing for hours yesterday (April 22), with no social distancing, at Heathrow Airport ahead of the India travel ban.
Pictures have surfaced on Twitter of travellers crammed into Terminal 2 as they queued for four hours to get through border control.
The shocking pictures were posted before India is placed on the ‘red’ travel list, which effectively bands travel to the UK from 4pm today, reports BerkshireLive.
The country is battling a surge in coronavirus infection rates, a rising death toll, and a new variant of the virus.
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India recorded a grim 314,000 coronavirus cases on Thursday, a global record, as doctors told of the dire situation in the country with a low number of beds being available and oxygen supplies reaching breaking point.
The travel ban now means that British and Irish nationals arriving in the UK from India must quarantine in a government-approved hotel.
Stuart Rideout was one of those in the queue last night having arrived in the country from Germany with his flight landing at 6.30pm.
But he said it took him four hours to get through border control and was eventually in his car at 11.15pm before then having to drive three hours to Wales, where he is now self-isolating.
“When I got through there were still hundreds of people queuing,” he said. “When I travelled out to Germany last week it took me five minutes to enter the country.”
Writing on his Twitter page, he said: “Welcome to the UK – please have your negative PCR test ready as you stand in a queue for four hours with no social distancing & people from all around the world. Madness.”
Other Twitter users also complained about the “poor management” at Heathrow, with one saying: “Zero #SocialDistancing (queue snakes leaving people forced to stand side-by-side, even if they kept a few steps from behind/ahead another). 3 officers for a crowd of 2000! 4-6 hour wait; crowded room, no ventilation.”
While another said: “Why are there 4/5 hour non socially distanced queues at T2 immigration @HeathrowAirport and only very few booths manned by immigration officers? Apathy, incompetence, laziness?? – a great advertisement for modern Britain. Will avoid whenever poss. As for a third runway? Forget it.”
Heathrow admitted waiting times had been “on occasion unacceptable” and “we have called on the UK Government to address the problem as a matter of urgency”.
A Home Office Spokesperson said: “We are in a global health pandemic, and people should not be travelling unless absolutely necessary.
“Queues and wait times will be longer if passengers have not completed the necessary requirements to enter the UK. Airlines are responsible for making sure that their passengers have completed all the necessary requirements, and airports have a crucial responsibility for ensuring travellers can social distance at passport control.
“To protect the British public and the UK vaccine rollout from new variants of concern, Border Force is checking that every passenger has complied with current health measures when arriving at the border. Passengers should currently expect queues and wait times to be longer than normal.”
BerkshireLive has contacted Heathrow for further comment.