Due to the recent emergence of a new mutated strain of COVID-19 in India as well as the spike in coronavirus cases in the country, there is a growing concern that Heathrow airport is a potential “breeding ground” for infection. The Government has urged Heathrow to keep passengers arriving from red list countries confined to a separate terminal, in order to minimise contact with other passengers and immigration officers, as well as other airport employees.
The risk of infection spreading at airports is further exacerbated by the necessity for immigration officers to manually check passenger locator forms and COVID-19 test results. This leads to queues lasting up to six hours with passengers from red, amber and green countries being confined within the same space, thus increasing the risk of exposure to the virus.
Professional officer for the Border Force union, Lucy Moreton, has confirmed that there is a significant risk of COVID-19 spreading at the UK border, particularly when the processing of documents is slow and the queues are long.
Despite travel restrictions and ongoing lockdowns, Heathrow continues to operate on a high-volume basis, with 8,000 to 10,000 passengers arriving at the airport daily, of which around 1,000 arrivals are from red list countries.
A spokesperson at Heathrow has said that the airport, together with Government ministers, will explore the possibility of an economically viable arrivals facility dedicated to passengers from red list countries as a means of isolating the risk of infection where possible.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.