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Passenger Locator Form for travel could be shelved by Easter, says Grant Shapps

Transport minister is lobbying for complex form to be axed

Lucy Thackray
Monday 21 February 2022 10:24 GMT
Many are spending their final travel day completing complex paperwork
Many are spending their final travel day completing complex paperwork (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The transport secretary is reportedly pushing for the UK’s Passenger Locator Form (PLF) to be axed before the Easter holidays.

Grant Shapps is aiming for the lengthy and complicated health tracking form to be scrapped by the beginning of April to make Easter travels easier and more appealing, reports the Daily Mail.

The form is also set to be simplified further within the next few weeks, it reports.

At 20 pages for fully vaccinated travellers and even more for the unvaccinated, the form has widely been derided as too complex, with many saying it is not even checked by the UK’s Border Force.

At present, all arrivals – resident and foreign – into the UK must complete the form online within the 48 hours before their journey.

After travel testing was removed for vaccinated travellers to the UK on 11 February, the form became slightly simplified for that group, but remained long with some confusing questions.

Many in the travel industry have called for an end to the PLF, including Stewart Wingate, the chief executive of Gatwick Airport.

At the end of January, Mr Wingate told press: “It will take some time for consumer confidence to fully return. We urge government to remove the passenger locator form.”

In a November statement, Heathrow bosses said: “With air travel at other major European airports recovering faster, ministers should reassess testing requirements for fully vaccinated passengers and the Passenger Locator Form at the next Global Travel Taskforce review, to ensure the UK is aligned with its European competitors.”

At the 2021 Airlines UK conference, many aviation leaders shared concerns about the form, with Dutch airline KLM’s chief executive Pieter Elbers saying that his assistant had “almost asked for a payrise for sorting it out” for him.

It is understood that the Department of Health has thus far insisted on keeping it in place.

Mr Shapps has also been openly critical of the form in the past, calling it “ridiculously complicated”.

In January, he said it was “there for a critical reason”, suggesting that airport e-gates had been modified especially to track travellers via their passports.

“A lot of work has been done to automate the e-gate so that it reads the passport number, refers back to the passenger locator form and knows whether that individual has had to take a pre-departure test – which people who have not been vaccinated have to take – and, indeed, whether they have to take a day two test,” he told Parliament at the time.

The news comes as the country awaits the prime minister’s Monday announcement on a new “living with Covid” approach, with many domestic rules expected to be lifted or eased.

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