Heathrow’ airport has reopened Terminal 4 to process arrivals flying into London from countries on the UK’s Covid red list. This is to separate travellers from destinations considered to be high risk regarding the Omicron Covid variant.
On November 26, England’s dormant Red List became populated with ten countries from southern Africa and passengers coming from those locations must quarantine in hotels chosen by the government for 11 nights.
There is a sense of deja-vu as the same thing happened between June and November 2020 when Terminal 4 was used in the same way to avoid Red List passengers mingling with other passengers at border control. When the travel restrictions were relaxed, the terminal was closed until now.
The emergence of the Omicron variant has prompted the government to tighten travel rules, and measures include fully vaccinated travellers taking a Day 2 PCR test instead of the cheaper lateral flow test and self-isolating until a negative test is achieved.
Heathrow’s chief operating officer, Emma Gilthorpe, said:
“We are supportive of measures that protect public health and prevent the spread of Covid. The rapid introduction of restrictions for international travel will nonetheless be a further significant blow for British exporters and those wanting to visit friends and relatives. Keeping the changes under constant review, and a government commitment to the removal of red-list countries as soon as it is safe to do so, will help.”
Passenger numbers were recently boosted by the opening of the US borders to transatlantic travellers. However, Omicron has been identified in the US, and there are rumours that the Biden administration is looking to impose new restrictions. More soon.
Heathrow said it was maintaining Covid-secure measures across the airport, including mandatory face coverings, intensive robotic cleaning regimes and enhanced ventilation in immigration halls.
You may also like to read: New Travel Rules about PCR Tests and Red List.