Heathrow Airport launches a £150 coronavirus test for arriving passengers but ministers refuse to change quarantine rules
- Heathrow will start to offer tests for passengers arriving from virus hotspots
- They tests are in use in more than 30 countries including Germany and France
- UK ministers are refusing to allow people to leave self-isolation early
Heathrow will this week start to offer Covid-19 tests for passengers arriving from virus hotspots in a move that will heap pressure on Ministers to ditch Britain’s 14-day quarantine rule.
The tests, costing £150, are already in use in more than 30 countries including Germany, France and Austria so arrivals can avoid having to self-isolate for two weeks.
But UK Ministers are refusing to allow people to leave self-isolation early even if they have no symptoms and test negative.
Heathrow said its tests could allow people to leave quarantine safely and more quickly – potentially after around a week – should the Government approve its trials.
The tests are already in use in more than 30 countries including Germany, France and Austria. Pictured: Brazilian Renata Alves gets her mandatory COVID-19 test at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany, done after she was reunited with her German boyfriend Florian Mehler
MPs and travel bosses last night said Britain had been ‘hopelessly slow’ at approving an airport testing regime to cut quarantine times.
They called for an immediate rule change to save thousands of tourism jobs and promote international trade after France and the Netherlands were added to the quarantine blacklist last week.
Graham Brady, chairman of the Conservative Party’s 1922 Committee, said other European countries ‘are already up and running with Covid testing at airports, eliminating the need for all but a short quarantine for arrivals from higher-risk countries’.
Shai Weiss, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, said: ‘We fully support Heathrow’s trial and hope the evidence it provides will enable UK and US governments to act with urgency to open the skies back up again. Travel and tourism account for over 330 million jobs, that’s one in ten globally.’
Heathrow will this week start to offer Covid-19 tests for passengers arriving from virus hotspots
Heathrow will this week open a coronavirus testing centre in Terminal Two, developed with aviation firms Swissport and Collinson. It will open a second centre in Terminal Five next month.
Scott Sunderman, managing director of medical and security assurance at Collinson, said: ‘We are all very serious about getting aviation moving again and saving jobs.’
Under the Heathrow trials, passengers will pay £150 to take a 90-second test in the airport, which takes up to seven hours to process. They will then take a follow-up test at home five to eight days later, with the results within 72 hours.
Heathrow wants the Government to exempt those who receive a negative result in both tests from quarantine. It hopes to bring in the tests at all of Britain’s main airports.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has refused to endorse airport tests, saying only 7 per cent are accurate. Mr Sunderman disputed the figure, saying the Government’s modelling was outdated.