Heathrow Airport is ready to conduct COVID-19 tests on travelers arriving in the United Kingdom from high-risk countries. The news comes as England is set to scrap its mandatory 14-day quarantine for all arrivals later this week. The test would potentially aid the UK aviation industry’s recovery at its time of need.
It has now been around a month since the United Kingdom government introduced rules mandating a two-week quarantine for almost anybody who entered the country. This has caused a headache for travelers and had also torpedoed the UK industry’s recovery as it dissuades travelers.
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Testing on arrival
Heathrow Airport is ready to begin testing travelers for COVID-19 on arrival. The only hurdle in the way at this point is government approval. Currently, taking a COVID-19 test that is returned negative is not considered as an exemption from the quarantine regulations.
The test would be booked in advance ahead of arrival at Heathrow. This is similar to the model in place at Lufthansa’s testing center in Frankfurt. For the time being, only flights landing into Heathrow’s Terminal 2 would be eligible, and results wouldn’t be available straight away.
The test would be administered in a Swissport facility by nurses employed by Collinson. The passengers taking the test would do so before leaving the airport. Once they leave the airport, unless they are exempt from quarantining, they would need to proceed to a place of self-isolation. Meanwhile, their test would head to a nearby biotech lab.
It could take up to 24 hours to receive the test results, and travelers would need to self isolate during this period, as the test could either be positive or negative. Collinson says that around 95% of passengers will then get the green light to leave quarantine. Anybody with a positive test would need to self isolate for the full 14 days.
It seems as though the testing protocol is incredibly accurate, meaning that allowing the tests would be a win-win for the UK government. Speaking of accuracy, David Evans, Joint CEO at Collinson, said,
“We have seen the results of clinical trials using the same testing protocol at other European airports. In these trials, travellers were tested on arrival and again five days later. They showed zero cases of someone testing negative in the first instance and then positive in the second, proving the sensitivity of the tests when carried out on arrival.”
Implementing the tests would allow business travelers and tourists to travel to the UK without the fear of a 14-day quarantine upon arrival. This would enable demand to return, and airlines to begin taking the first steps of the long recovery ahead of them.
Would you take a COVID test to avoid quarantining? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!