Heathrow devotes terminal to processing arrivals from red list countries

Reopened terminal 3 will deal with passengers from 43 destinations with elevated Covid risk

Heathrow's Terminal 3 will now be reserved for direct arrivals from countries on the British government's "red list," from which travellers are subject to a lengthy hotel quarantine. Getty.
Heathrow's Terminal 3 will now be reserved for direct arrivals from countries on the British government's "red list," from which travellers are subject to a lengthy hotel quarantine. Getty.

Heathrow Airport has devoted an entire terminal building to arrivals into the UK from countries with an elevated risk of coronavirus.

Terminal 3 will deal exclusively with travellers from 43 countries on Britain’s red list, including India, Kenya and Brazil.

The terminal was closed in April 2020 to save money after a dramatic drop in passenger numbers caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.

Under the UK's traffic light system, people arriving from red list countries must enter into hotel quarantine for 11 nights, costing up to £1,750 ($2,480) for solo travellers.

The move was designed to protect passengers arriving from amber and green list countries from infection as they passed through the UK's busiest airport.

Passengers at the London airport had previously complained about bottlenecks after being forced to queue for up to six hours in poorly ventilated, overcrowded immigration halls. This congestion was made worse, they said, because people from red list and non-red list places were closely mixed.

Only British citizens or those with residency rights are allowed to enter the UK from red list countries, and must provide a recent negative Covid-19 test. Arrivals from the UAE, Qatar and Oman are required to stay in mandatory hotel quarantine.

Heathrow bosses insisted there were “several layers of protection to keep passengers and colleagues safe”, such as mandatory testing for all arrivals, segregation and ventilation.

“Red list routes will likely be a feature of UK travel for the foreseeable future as countries vaccinate their populations at different rates,” an airport representative said. “We’re adapting Heathrow to this longer-term reality.”

Heathrow plans to move its new centre for processing red list arrivals to Terminal 4 “as soon as operationally possible”.

There is mounting speculation that the red list will be expanded in the coming days.

Robert Boyle, former director of strategy at British Airways’ parent company IAG, questioned why the list had not been extended earlier amid Covid-19 variants and rising global infections.

In a blog post, he said UK ministers were under pressure from beleaguered airlines and travel companies to allow foreign holidays.

Updated: June 1, 2021 06:03 PM

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