Heathrow chiefs admit the tests would cost passengers £150 per person but say the measures would be welcomed by many
Heathrow Airport is proposing a coronavirus testing plan in a bid to reduce the 14-day quarantines and get people travelling by plane as the travel sector suffers under the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic.
John Holland-Kaye, the chief executive of Heathrow airport, has called on the government to allow a scheme in which passengers would be tested for the coronavirus at their point of arrival into the UK, followed by at a health centre within five to eight days of their arrival.
Mr Holland-Kaye argued that a programme such as this would boost passenger confidence following fears over the sudden implementation of a 14-day quarantine at the weekend for people on arrival from Spain.
This comes after the UK has signed a deal to supply the nation with up to 60 million doses of a potential life-saving COVID-19 vaccine developed by the pharmaceutical Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).
Speaking on the issue, culture secretary Oliver Dowden has said that the government was currently going over all potential options because it wanted to reduce any disruption, but described testing for COVID-19 as no “silver bullet”.
Heathrow’s CEO said:
“The UK needs a passenger testing regime and fast. Without it, Britain is just playing a game of quarantine roulette.”
“Our European competitors are racing ahead with passenger testing, if the UK doesn’t act soon global Britain will be nothing more than a campaign slogan,” he added.
Holland-Kaye acknowledged that there would be a cost to passengers for the coronavirus testing, under Heathrow’s proposals, which would be around £150 per person the test that takes place at the airport, but he said that he hoped that burden would come down going into the future and be attractive to those people who would want to limit their time in isolation.
The Heathrow CEO said that he could not criticise the UK government for its response to the proposal, but called for a partnership with them to help testing at the airport become a reality.
This comes after Boris Johnson has warned the nation that there are signs of a ‘second wave’ of COVID-19 in Europe, and has defended a 14-day quarantine for those arriving into the UK from Spain.
He told Ian King Live: “We pushed the button over the weekend on setting up a testing facility in Terminal Two – we could have it up and running within the next two weeks.”
“What we need though is for the government to work with us on this. We need them to allow people out of quarantine if they have tested clear at both of those testing points.”
“We need them to work with us on making sure we tie in to their track and trace system and I’m sure there will be some other changes we need to make to fit in with government policy.”
“This is an opportunity for government and the private sector to work together to save the economy but also prevent a second wave of COVID.”