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Saturday, 16 May 2020

BA holidaymakers face no checks leaving and none coming back as hundreds of flights and THOUSANDS of passengers arrive in the UK every day

The packed flight from Heathrow to Amsterdam that Sian Boyle took during the coronavirus lockdown
Most of us are in dire straits in lockdown, confined with cabin fever and wanderlust.

We've followed the rules to the letter, only leaving home where necessary and avoiding beloved friends and family.

Yet while many of us haven't ventured past the garden gate since March, a curious phenomenon taunts us: the planes in the sky.

In scenes that have exasperated Britons locked down in their homes for nearly eight weeks – in the country with the world's second-highest death toll – jets continue to streak overhead.

Today the Mail can reveal how hundreds of flights a week are bringing in tens of thousands of international passengers with no checks whatsoever.


While emergency coronavirus legislation dictates that it's against the law to stay overnight away from home, travellers are able to hop on and off flights with no questions asked.

In other developments as Britain moved into day 54 of lockdown: 
  • Liverpool became the first English city to refuse to return children to school next month as the Government faced a growing row over its plan to restart lessons; 
  • Steve Chalke, founder of one of England's biggest academy trusts, said opposition to reopening schools was 'middle class' and harms disadvantaged children who miss school; 
  • The British Medical Association has said teachers' unions are 'absolutely right' to say it is unsafe for schools to open on June 1;
  • London and Yorkshire were named the worst regions in the UK for covidiots as police issue 14,000 fines for lockdown breaches;
  • No 10 revealed lockdowns could be eased regionally as new data suggested just 24 people a day in London are catching coronavirus;
  • Two coronavirus cases have been confirmed at a primary school attended by vulnerable pupils as the site is closed for a deep clean;
  • Analysis by Public Health England and Cambridge University calculated the crucial reproduction rate, known as the R, was already falling before lockdown was introduced on March 23
The International Air Transport Association warned this week that revenue for 2020 will be cut in half and could take years to recover. The airline industry is, justifiably, devastated at the effect coronavirus is having on business.
Eurocontrol, which co-ordinates air traffic across the continent, published data this month showing UK air traffic was down by 91 per cent.
But what of the other 9 per cent? Are Britons still travelling internationally? And what checks are imposed on those who try to enter the country during lockdown? I booked a holiday to find out.
Advice from the Foreign Office cautions British nationals against all but essential international travel.
In spite of this, British Airways alone offers holiday deals across the US and Europe, as well as Mexico, Japan and Hong Kong. Many flights are sold out – including business class.
This week there were, on average, 170 flights per day arriving at Heathrow, including ten in one hour from New York – one of the areas worst-affected by a coronavirus. Other flights came directly from Rome, Madrid, Tehran, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
After my 24 hours in Amsterdam, the return flight to Heathrow is almost at capacity. Embarrassingly for Britain, its borders offer no health screening – unlike the supposedly 'relaxed' Dutch. Upon arrival there are no checks or interceptions of travellers heading off to their final destinations. Pictured: Heathrow arrivals


After my 24 hours in Amsterdam, the return flight to Heathrow is almost at capacity. Embarrassingly for Britain, its borders offer no health screening – unlike the supposedly 'relaxed' Dutch. Upon arrival, there are no checks or interceptions of travellers heading off to their final destinations. Pictured: Heathrow arrivals 
I browse package deals on BA's Holiday Finder website and book next-day return tickets to Amsterdam, the city of canals and culture.
Heading to the airport (armed with a face mask and gloves), I wonder if I'll be stopped – or even arrested. Yet I arrive at Heathrow's Terminal Five without incident and even have to drive around to find a space in the short-term car park.
At the BA check-in desk, my boarding pass is printed without an eyelid batted. I'm not asked where I'm going, or why.
Prior to boarding, my 30-odd fellow passengers and I are asked to fill out a health questionnaire issued by the Dutch government, covering any potential symptoms.
On the plane, I hear an in-flight announcement unlike any other: 'Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. This is your captain speaking. Where possible on this flight we will maintain social distancing rules.
Spain and Italy – the worst-affected areas in the EU before Britain's corona crisis deepened – have closed their airspace to anyone without certain documentation.
British passengers trying to get to Spain cannot leave terra firma without a resident's card. Italy demands a 'self-declaration form for travel', and passengers must report to local health authorities upon arrival.
'The UK is one of the very few countries in the world to actually have no checks at borders for anyone coming in,' Scottish government health adviser Professor Devi Sridhar warned last week. 'It is an outlier.'

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