Thousands face removal from UK as Covid-19 deportation halt to end

While the government says those in accommodation have three weeks to leave, The Independent news website said deportations would start immediately

TOPSHOT - Migrants in a dinghy wearing life jackets illegally cross the English Channel from France to Britain on September 11, 2020.  The number of migrants crossing the English Channel -- which is 33,8 km (21 miles) at the closest point in the Straits of Dover --  in small inflatable boats has spiralled over the summer of the 2020. According to authorities in northern France some 6,200 migrants have attempted the crossing between January 1 and August 31, 2020, compared with 2,294 migrants for the whole of 2019. / AFP / Sameer Al-DOUMY
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Thousands of failed asylum seekers in the UK who are being housed in hotels could be deported within weeks as a government freeze on evictions due to the coronavirus pandemic looks set to be lifted because of pressures on the system.

A spokesperson for the Home Office said those who received a negative asylum decision will be given a three week grace period. However, a letter from the Home Office seen by the Independent news website said removals would take place with immediate effect.

In March, the government announced a suspension on evictions from asylum accommodation to prevent the spread of Covid-19 as the UK entered an effective lockdown.

Cases are on the rise again with numbers of those testing positive reaching a four-month high in recent days, despite a series of local lockdowns as authorities scramble to deal with the “second-wave”.

“The phased cessation of support has now begun in order to reduce the demand on the asylum system,” a Home Office spokesperson said.

“We have been clear from the outset that this was a temporary measure which would be brought to an end as soon as it was safe to do so.”

The Home Office did not say exactly how many failed asylum seekers would be evicted.

“Those who have received a negative asylum decision, which means they have no right to remain the UK, are given a 21 day grace period.

"During this time, they are expected to make steps to return to their country of origin while still remaining in accommodation and receiving support. Assistance is available for those who leave voluntarily, but for those who do not, enforcement action may be taken to facilitate removal,” the spokesperson added.

The UK has also seen a surge in people crossing the Channel from France in boats with around 1,500 plucked from the sea by border officials in September.