On Tuesday, London’s busy Heathrow Airport opened a dedicated new terminal for arrivals from countries on UK’s “red list”.

Visitors travelling on direct flights from destinations on the red list, will now arrive at Terminal 3 and will move straight to a government-approved quarantine facility. The quarantine package must be pre-booked by passengers at their own expense.

The move comes after the London airport’s staff raised concern for their safety due to overcrowding. The other fear is that arrivals from red list countries from where travel is effectively banned, except for British and Irish nationals or limited exceptions, were mixing with those from green and amber countries.

A Heathrow Airport spokesperson said, “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 in Terminal 3 from 1 June for red list passengers arriving on direct flights. While opening this facility will be logistically very challenging, our hope is that it will enable Border Force to carry out its duties more efficiently as passenger volumes increase in line with the green list. Until then, the current red list system will remain in place.”

At present, the UK government has put 43 countries on their red list to cover regions where high-risk COVID-19 variants are found, such as India, Brazil and South Africa.

According to the UK’s COVID-19 travel rules, any person who has visited or transited a country on the red list is required to pre-book and bear the expenses for a hotel quarantine package for 10 nights after their arrival into the UK.

The latest system at the Heathrow Airport has been planned with several layers of COVID-19 security, which includes mandatory negative COVID-19 tests for all international arrivals, mandatory use of face masks, social distancing, segregation and enhanced cleaning regimes and ventilation in immigration halls.

“We will move this facility to Terminal 4 as soon as operationally possible,” the Heathrow spokesperson said.

On Monday, the UK recorded over 3,000 coronavirus cases, for a sixth day in a row, with this figure not having been surpassed since April 12. According to Johns Hopkins University, the virus has taken 128,045 lives of  people in the UK and have affected 45,03,231 people in the UK so far.


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