More than 200 passengers have been threatened with government fines after landing at Heathrow without booking a quarantine hotel.
Border force officials sent travelers “notices of intent” for failing to adhere to Covid precautions between February 2021 and September, according to a response to a Freedom of Information Act request.
The cases, which carry the threat of a flat-rate penalty notice, have been “referred for further investigation,” according to the disclosure.
The government declined to disclose further details of its enforcement activities, including the results in each case, saying it would cost too much to retrieve information from its systems.
The hotel quarantine system has been heavily criticized by some of those who have isolated themselves in managed accommodation during the pandemic.
A total of 210 people received the notices.
Gary Reeves, a regular flyer who raised loopholes in the system, told Metro.co.uk: “The government has tried to control the spread of new variants but the quarantine system has not been well enough thought out.
“My experience shows that checks on travelers from all over the world were not as thorough as they were supposed to be. I don’t think the system was very secure and it certainly wasn’t foolproof.
‘It’s a double-edged sword. Do you blame the people who arrived without booking expensive quarantine and testing packages, or do you blame the government, which struggled to implement something on this scale in such a short timeframe? “
The quarantine system has already been criticized by several people who endured a 10-day isolation period after arriving in the UK.
In October, a passenger returning from Trinidad described it as a “shambles” as he returned to Heathrow on a flight that had also picked up passengers from a Green List country.
Rob, who asked to be known by first name, told Metro.co.uk that the “grotesque” scheme also meant he had mingled with thousands of people throughout the airport.
The quarantine measure effectively ended on Monday, November 1 with the removal of the remaining countries from the Red List, although the restriction may be reimposed in the future.
Details were not disclosed until after the Home Office first said it could not provide broader information on violations of the system, before the request was restricted and submitted. again.
In its response, Border Force said: “When a passenger arriving from a Red List country must have booked the managed quarantine service, but does not have a reservation, border forces officers have the power to notify Notice of Intent to Issue a Fixed Avis Penalty They will also ensure the passenger meets reservation and quarantine requirements.
The Interior Ministry insisted that the 210 travelers represent only a “tiny fraction” of the total number of Red List passengers.
A spokesperson told Metro.co.uk: “We have provided Metro with information in response to their request. We also made it clear in our response that the requester can refine their question or request an internal review if they do so. wish.
“We have a duty to ensure value for money for the taxpayer and FOI claims estimated to be processed at £ 600 or more may be refused under Section 12 of the Act.
“This FOI indicates that 210 travelers at Heathrow have not booked their managed quarantine service in a period of more than seven months, which is a tiny fraction of the number of travelers entering the UK’s busiest airport .
“It shows that the sanitary measures at the border have worked.”
Do you have a story you would like to share? Contact [email protected]
For more stories like this, see our news page.