London Heathrow airport will devote a terminal to arrivals from countries with high levels of Covid-19 infection amid concern that having them share a building with other passengers risks spreading the virus.
A dedicated facility for flights from so-called red list nations will open in Heathrow’s Terminal 3 from June 1, the airport said in a statement Friday. The hub had been in protracted talks over government funding for the plan, which it said will be very challenging logistically.
“Red list routes will likely be a feature of U.K. travel for the foreseeable future as countries vaccinate their populations at different rates,” the airport said. “We’re adapting Heathrow to this longer-term reality.”
Red-list passengers are currently met from the plane, guided down special immigration channels and taken straight to an approved quarantine hotel.
Other travelers have expressed concerns about close contact, especially given the spread of variants like the one first identified in India. Checks for negative coronavirus tests at the border have forced people to line up for hours in arrivals halls, heightening fears about potential transmission.
Heathrow said the change should allow Border Force officials to carry out their duties “more efficiently as passenger volumes increase.” The red-list facility will be moved to Terminal 4 as soon as operationally possible so that Terminal 3, which is more easily adaptable in the short term, can reopen for other passengers.
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