Heathrow Airport has opened a dedicated terminal for passengers arriving in the UK from countries with a high risk of Covid.
From today, travellers arriving on direct flights from red list nations will now transit through Terminal Three. There are 43 countries on the UK’s red list, including India, Pakistan, Turkey, Brazil and South Africa. Direct flights into the UK are permitted from only a few red list countries, including India, with only British and Irish nationals or UK residents allowed to travel from countries on the list. All passengers who have been in a red list country in the previous 10 days, whether they have travelled direct or from another country, face a mandatory 10-night hotel quarantine paid for by themselves, after their arrival.
The new arrangements for red list passengers follow safety concerns from fellow travellers that passengers from countries with an increased Covid risk were mixing with other passengers within Heathrow’s immigration halls. The move follows warnings by scientists that the UK could be entering the early stages of a third wave of coronavirus infections.
Red list routes: “feature of UK travel for foreseeable future”
A Heathrow Airport spokeswoman told the BBC: “Red list routes will likely be a feature of UK travel for the foreseeable future as countries vaccinate their populations at different rates. We’re adapting Heathrow to this longer-term reality by initially opening a dedicated arrivals facility.”
The government is reported to have contributed a substantial amount of funding towards the dedicated red list terminal, which would separate those arriving from high risk countries from an expected higher volume of passenger numbers from the government’s green list of low risk countries, which is set to expand in the coming months.
Heathrow added that its dedicated arrivals site would switched to Terminal 4 “as soon as operationally possible”.
Additional Border Force officers deployed
With restrictions on international travel set to be loosened in the coming month, the Home Office told the BBC that additional Border Force staff had been mobilised to help minimise queuing times for passengers and ensure compliance with the UK’s border health measures.
A government spokeswoman told the BBC:”As we reopen international travel safely, we will maintain 100 per cent health checks at the border and the new dedicated terminal at Heathrow for arrivals from red list countries will enable passengers to be processed as safely and as efficiently as possible, before being transferred to a managed quarantine facility.”
“We continue to do all we can to smooth the process, including the roll-out of our e-gate upgrade programme during the summer and deploying additional Border Force officers.”
Other current Covid travel restrictions include mandatory negative Covid tests for all international arrivals, mandatory use of face coverings, social distancing, segregation and enhanced cleaning regimes and ventilation in immigration halls.