Boris Johnson says travel red list is under 'constant review'
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Heathrow Airport today launched its dedicated terminal for passengers arriving from red list countries. While the news is a positive step for protecting passengers from amber and green list countries mixing with those headed for hotel quarantine, a travel expert has warned it could indicate the “traffic light” system is here to stay for a while.
The special terminal, where passengers from “high risk” countries will land, is currently housed in Terminal Three.
In a tweet, Paul Charles, CEO of the PC Agency, wrote: “Sadly the @HeathrowAirport ‘red list’ terminal, initially paid for by the #Government, may be needed for a while as vaccine rollouts are at a different pace worldwide.”
Speaking on BBC News, the travel expert added: “Indeed, Heathrow is saying it might be needed for some time and clearly because of the vaccine roll-out not being at the same pace globally then it is likely that there will be some red list countries sadly for some time.”
However, Mr Charles pointed out that the airport looking to move the red list terminal from Terminal Three to Terminal Four could be a “good sign” for hopeful holidaymakers.
“I take that as a really good sign because Terminal Three is heavily used by the likes of Virgin Atlantic and they will need that terminal to reopen properly for passengers coming back from America when the US-UK corridor opens up, most likely later in June,” he said.
Currently, it is thought the Government is footing the bill for running the terminal, though the exact cost is not clear.
According to Sky News, the cost of running an airport terminal is between £2.5million to £5million monthly.
The decision to open the dedicated terminal came after staff and travellers raised concerns regarding overcrowding.
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According to the GMB trade union which represents workers in the UK, people from different lists were finding themselves in close quarters upon passing through immigration.
A Heathrow 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 Three from June 1 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.
“This system has been designed by the government and has several layers of protection to keep passengers and colleagues safe – including 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.”
The spokesperson said the terminal will move to Terminal Four “as soon as operationally possible.”
It is expected that a further announcement on the “traffic light” system will come on Thursday this week.
So far, it is not clear which, if any, nations will be added or removed from the green, amber or red lists.
At the time of writing, there are 43 countries on the UK’s red list.
Among them are the United Arab Emirates, India and Turkey.
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