POPULAR holiday islands are reportedly set to join Englands ‘green list’ of countries in a travel update next week – amid concerns that Border Force officials will be overwhelmed by the number of travellers.
Travel to Malta, the Balearics and Greek islands could become quarantine-free if the government changes the list in a review due to take place on June 3.
There are currently 12 countries and territories which have been put on the green list for England.
Portugal, including the Azores and Madeira; Australia; New Zealand; Singapore; Brunei; Iceland; Faroe Islands; Gibraltar; Falkland Islands; and Israel are all on the list.
Malta, the Balearic Islands of Spain and the Greek islands of Santorini, Kos, Rhodes and Zante all could be added to the list next week according to the Independent.
But the Balearics are causing the Government concern, because of the higher rate of traffic it has with the mainland compared to the other islands.
It is also hoped some of the 43 destinations of the ‘red list’ will be upgraded to ‘amber’, meaning returning Brits can self-isolate at home instead of quarantining at a hotel.
If the popular holiday hotspots are moved to the green list it could cause the Border Force to become stretched by the number of arrivals in the UK.
One source told The Times: “The Balearics are hugely popular and the government is worried about opening up too quickly.
“Opening up to the Balearics would mean a huge increase in Brits leaving the UK.
“There are fears that opening up to hugely popular destinations like the Balearics would overwhelm Border Force while the 100 per cent passenger location form checks remain in place.
“So while opening up the Balearics would be a big enough increase to help out the airlines, it would also be a big enough change to cause a really big problem at the border.”
Another insider told the paper: “What is holding back some countries being put on the green list when they’re perfectly safe to be on it is the concern in the Home Office that Border Force doesn’t have the resources to cope with the volume of travellers coming back into the UK.”
But Border Force officials have slammed the allegations, insisting that they were currently working at full capacity within the constraints imposed by the Government.
The Home Office insisted that pressure on the Border Force was not a consideration when they were deciding if they should add a country to the green list.
However the Immigration Services Union believe that overcrowding at passport control could be made worse because so many airports were only operating with one terminal.
Huge queues are being made worse because electronic-gates cannot be used because the Government is yet to fully digitise the ‘passenger locator forms’, which travellers must fill in before heading to the UK.
Lucy Moreton, of the Immigration Services Union, told MailOnline: “The delays are not caused by a lack of staff. If you look at it, we can now only man every other desk for covid reasons.
“If your bubble is assigned to admin tasks for the day, ordinarily we would hoik them out, but we can’t do that.
“It makes it look like we are understaffed, when in fact we have the maximum number of people working we can.
“If you arrived in pre-Covid times it would be two minutes at the desk usually, and is four minutes now if the documents are correct.
“But if they don’t have everything then you’re in trouble. Just to book the passenger Covid tests, that drives it to 40 minutes at least, if not much longer. You would have queues, but you’d have them much shorter.
“The Government can choose two routes. Either remove the requirement for 100 per cent checks, with all the attendant risk to national Covid security. Or compel carriers to ensure that no one arrives in the UK without having complied with the relevant requirements.”