Travelling back from holiday can be an absolute nightmare at the best of times, with baggage reclaim and passport controls.
But on top of all that, you must now provide proof of a negative Covid test and a passenger locator form, which allows the government to trace you if a fellow passenger tests positive for Covid.
Or so I thought. In fact, the bureaucracy of having all my Covid forms checked ended up not being such a hassle – as it was not even checked when I arrived at Gatwick Airport.
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The anxiety and monotony of filling out the forms
There’s something frustrating about an email from the authorities demanding you to fill in a tediously complex form while you’re lounging in the Mediterranean that really puts a damper on your day.
But acknowledging that we are still in a pandemic, I opened my laptop somewhat reluctantly to complete the forms.
But by the time I finished it, I was fuming.
The migraine-inducing 40 minutes of non-stop form-filling drove me to the point of a nervous breakdown.
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I didn’t find it difficult, but it was that at each step I needed a piece of information I didn’t have. So I’d have to fetch my passport, only to find the page had timed out so I had to start again from scratch.
Once I submitted it, the anxiety kicked in.
I was terrified that I’d made a mistake on the small print and that I wouldn’t be allowed back into the UK.
But I went back to enjoying my holiday and hoped all would be OK on the day.
No mention of the forms at Gatwick
On the day of my departure, I arrived at Gibraltar International Airport weighed down by the ‘essential’ documents.
There’s nothing more anxiety-inducing than frantically scrabbling through paperwork when asked, with a plane full of angry travellers behind you, but seeing the EasyJet staff forensically examining the forms to make sure everything was in order was reassuring to see.
It made me feel a lot safer and it meant the agonising 40 minutes I’d spent on the form weren’t in vain.
But things did not operate quite like that in Gatwick.
I landed at around 10.30pm on September 23
I had visions of queuing for hours on end just to show a couple of barcodes to prove my Covid-free status.
But as soon as I got to passport control, they just waved me through.
No checks, no mention of any forms. It’s as if they didn’t exist.
This feels almost negligent from the airport authorities and I can’t help but feel it’s because of the precedent set by the government.
I worry that the relaxing of travel restrictions and other day-to-day restrictions, while cases continue, albeit not rising significantly, creating a culture of being lax around the rules, and it worries me sick.
While the authorities behave like this, Covid will never go away.
Gatwick Airport was contacted for comment.