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Revision as of 18:54, 10 June 2021
's Heathrow Airport's dedicated terminal for red list arrivals has been criticised as it opened today.
Previously, those arriving from 43 high-risk countries - such as , and - were mixing with others from lower-risk amber and green nations in airport queues sparking outrage.
Now, London's busiest airport has converted Terminal 3 into a red-list only arrivals zone.
The terminal was previously unused during the pandemic due to a reduction in international flights.
Passengers travelling to the UK on connecting flights from red list locations continue to transit through the airport alongside those from green and amber countries.
Flights are only permitted from a few of the red list nations - including India where the latest variant originates - and arrivals must be British and Irish nationals or UK residents.
Passengers arriving in the UK after being in one of those destinations during the previous 10 days must spend 11 nights in a quarantine hotel, costing £1,750 for solo travellers.
Those from amber list countries can quarantine at home, and green list arrivals - nations with the least risk of exported Covid cases - don't need to isolate at all.
David Katende, 51, a cab driver from Feltham, west London, said: 'Travelling was okay, it just took a little more time that's all.
'I came from Uganda and connected through Amsterdam, so I could have been seated next to red list passenger.
'But I'm not concerned because they would have been tested like me before getting the plane.
'Some of the countries on the red list are actually safer, but because they are a flight hub, they get put on the red list.
'I think separating passengers is not really a very nice thing because it makes them feel different.
David Katende, 51, a cab driver from Feltham, west London, said everyone was tested when they left so did not see the point
Amir Jahandin, 28, https://www.kynghidongduong.vn/ an animator who is visiting his grandmother in hospital in London, said he came from Boston in the US
Angie Ney, 37, a caretaker who had just arrived from Luxembourg to visit her boyfriend Sabir Ahmed, 36, from London
'They should have just left it as it is, because everyone is tested when they come in and again on days two and eight, so what's the point?
'I think travelling from an amber or red list country is basically the same thing, except you have to go to a hotel, which costs like £1,700.
'The hotel money is like another holiday.'
'I've been travelling quite a lot in the past few weeks - Istanbul, https://www.kynghidongduong.vn/ Malaga and Luxembourg.
Amir Jahandin, 28, an animator who is visiting his grandmother in hospital in London, said: 'I just came from Boston in the United States and there is a lot of paperwork.
'And I had to fly through Portugal because there were no direct flights, which were affordable.'
'The airline doesn't tell you anything, so I only just found out I needed a passenger locator form and a negative covid test.
'I don't think I've ever been so stressed out about travel in my life - it felt like I was trying to enter a country that's difficult to get into like Iran or something.
'I think closing Terminal 3 is a good precaution to take, but I guess putting some countries on a list and isn't a good place to be starting from.
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'Because it seems like green list countries aren't necessarily safer, they are just places people like travelling to.
'Also the fact that a lot of the red list countries are poorer nations is no coincidence in my opinion.
'I think it's indirectly discriminating against them, because these countries haven't been given the same access to vaccines, but that's a whole other problem.
'They were shouting at us saying 'are you from a red list country' and scooting them into the red list customs line.
'I'm not sure what the system is in place if they find someone who has got covid.'
Coach parked outside Heathrow Terminal 3 ready to pick up 'red list' arrivals and ferry them straight to hotel quarantine
'Red list' arrival walks to coach where he will be taken for his 10-day stay at hotel quarantine, costing £1,750
Passengers queue up for the coach to hotel quarantine after landing at Heathrow's Terminal 3 - which has today became a desginated 'red list' arrival hub after fury over arrivals from safer nations mixing in airport queues
Angie Ney, 37, a caretaker who has just arrived from Luxembourg to visit her boyfriend Sabir Ahmed, 36, from London said: 'I think a lot of these rules are illogical because, for example, if you look at Luxembourg, the R rate is barely above zero, yet Portugal's is much higher and it's on the green list.
'I don't think closing Terminal 3 is the right thing to do, because people can still transit through other places.
'And there are lot of people standing in the queues here in Terminal 2 with their masks pulled down or completely off.
'Also I needed to have two PCR tests, but I'm not even here on day eight.
Still, I had to buy it anyways, so it's just a money making scheme.'
Mr Ahmed said: 'I tried calling the healthcare service to explain the situation, but the woman was quite rude actually and said she needed anyway.
'It's a bit short sighted on the government to think people will be coming to the UK for a minimum of 10 days. It doesn't make sense.'
Alex Papp, 34, an offshore worker who is travelling to Amsterdam said: 'I'm not that worried about coming into contact with red list countries because I work with so many different nationalities.
'I work with 59 different nationalities on my rig and I've been working all through covid and not one person has got covid.
London's Heathrow Airport has converted Terminal 3 (file image, pictured) into a red-list only arrivals zone.
The terminal was previously unused during the pandemic due to a reduction in flights
London's busiest airport has converted Terminal 3 into a red-list only arrivals zone.
The terminal was previously unused during the pandemic due to a reduction in international flights
Travellers from red list countries must isolate for 10 days in a quarantine hotel
A passenger arriving from red list India (left) and another arriving from New York in amber list US (right) in Heathrow last month
Previously, those arriving from 43 high-risk countries - such as India , Brazil and South Africa - were mixing with others from lower-risk amber and green nations (pictured last month) in airport queues sparking outrage
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'I think closing terminal 3 and the rules are all rubbish - if we're so confident in this vaccine, why are we bothering.'
Heathrow is the only UK airport which has dedicated a terminal to red list arrivals so far.
Other airports quizzed by the BBC - including Bristol, London's City Airport and Gatwick - have no direct red list flights coming in at this time, meaning similar measures would not be necessary.
Heathrow insisted there were 'several layers of protection to keep passengers and colleagues safe', such as mandatory testing for all arrivals, segregation and ventilation.
Gareth Brisbane, 66, a retired accountant said: 'I went to Iceland for two weeks on holiday, camping around the west fjords.
'Travelling was no problem, although there were quite a lot of hoops to jump through coming back.
'Even though Iceland is on the green list, I needed to take a test 72 hours before and will have to do another one in two days. I was dreading coming through customs here, but they took us straight off the plane and we went straight through.
'As you come into the customs hall they were asking people from red list countries to identify themselves.
'That was my major concern coming back - getting stuck in a customs hall with a load of red list passengers.
'So I think closing down Terminal 3 is a great idea.'
Eleonore Poli, 26, https://www.kynghidongduong.vn/ a PhD student in material sciences at the University of Cambridge, said: 'I just arrived from Geneva and the airport is still pretty empty.
'My flight got cancelled this morning so I thought it was going to be really busy, but there were only 40 on the plane.
'When I arrived, my electronic passport did not work so I had to go to the desk.
'They did not check my passenger locator form or my PCR test - all they said was this is how long you need to quarantine for.
'They have specific lines for red list passengers to follow, but they are still mixing at the exit.
'There are also staff helping separate people, but you are only a metre apart really - like you could hug someone if you wanted to.
'I'm not too concerned though because everyone has been PCR tested before getting on the plane.
'I'm about to get on the tube with lots of people and it's probably a lot riskier than on a plane.
'I think making Terminal 3 red list only is a really good idea.
'But I guess you have to make sure the employees there are also tested and don't mix with others.'
Others say even if it does not work it's worth trying if it means preventing covid from spreading.
Simona Sarnachi, 34, who arrived from Romania and is travelling to Southampton where she works on a cruise ship, said: 'I flew from Romania to Frankfurt to London and now I'm waiting for the shuttle bus to Southampton.
'I just needed a PCR test before departing and to fill out my passenger locator form, and that's it.
'It is difficult to keep up with what countries are on the list, because it keeps changing.
'I saw they were separating people with UK and European passports from those coming from red list countries.
'If they think it's necessary to stop the virus, then they should do it. Whether it's silly or not doesn't really matter, they are just testing to see what works.
'Obviously it might ruin some people's holiday - it happened to a friend of mine.
Flights are only permitted from few of the red list nations - including India where the latest variant originates - and arrivals must be British and Irish nationals or UK residents.
Pictured: Heathrow Airport
Daily coronavirus cases have risen by nearly 40 per cent in a week to 3,240 as deaths rose by 20 per cent
'I don't think it's going to stop the virus for at least another year.
Then Covid will be just like the flu or any other disease.'
It comes as ministers are preparing contingency plans to extend restrictions beyond June 21 - 'freedom day' - amid fears that a surge in cases of the Indian variant could lead to a spike in hospital admissions and deaths.
Cambridge professor Ravi Gupta yesterday warned there are signs that the UK is in the early stages of a third wave of coronavirus infection and that the lifting of restrictions should be postponed.
Meanwhile, Government minister George Eustice acknowledged England's 'Freedom Day' in June could be in jeopardy as the Indian variant spreads. Daily coronavirus cases rose by nearly 40 per cent in a week to 3,240 yesterday.
The Government has faced mounting calls to ensure red list arrivals are separated from those coming in from other countries to limit the spread of Covid.
earlier insisted that it is down to airports to make sure border queues happen in a Covid-secure way, and that the Government is 'doing everything possible to make this process as efficient as possible'.
Asked whether amber and red arrivals should be separated at airports, a spokesman for Prime Minister last month said that 'all arrivals should be managed in a way that is as Covid-secure as possible.'
A Heathrow Airport spokeswoman said today: '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 3 from June 1 for red list passengers arriving on direct flights.
'We will move this facility to Terminal 4 as soon as operationally possible.
'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.'
An airport executive said in April that passengers are being forced to queue for up to six hours to be processed through immigration halls.
It is the first time Terminal 3 has been used since April 2020, when it was closed to save costs amid the collapse in demand for travel.
Britain's red, green and amber travel lists are due to be updated later this week after international travel was legalised on May 17.
Robert Boyle - former director of strategy at British Airways' parent company IAG - has predicted that Bahrain, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Kuwait will be added to the red list 'shortly' due to rising infection rates.
He wrote in a blog post: 'Given how much heat the Government is taking about the delays in adding India to the red list, you might wonder why the four red list candidates haven't already been added.
'But ministers are also under heavy pressure to open up travel, not only from beleaguered airlines and other travel companies, but also from parts of the media chafing against what many see as unjustified state restrictions on liberty.'
It was last night revealed that Britons are still not banned from travelling to Vietnam even though a potentially dangerous new Covid variant has been found there.
A strain of the virus appearing to be a hybrid of the UK and Indian variants, both of which are fast-spreading, has appeared in the country.
The red list was drawn up to slash the risk of Britain importing new variants of the virus that could risk vaccines not working.
There was uproar among scientists and politicians when it took weeks for to be added despite it having the world's worst outbreak - and a variant that emerged there is now dominant in the UK and threatens to wreck plans to end .
Despite this and the revelation that a new variant has sprung up in Vietnam, the country remains on the amber list, which means hotel quarantine isn't required.
The variant is not yet internationally recognised so it is unknown whether it has spread to other countries.
Vietnam's tough crackdown on the virus meant it has been largely untouched by Covid with a total of just 7,107 cases and 47 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
But that number of cases has more than doubled from just 2,900 at the beginning of May, which the health minister said could be due to the new variant.
Dr Nguyen Thanh Long said the new strain could be behind the variant now being in 30 of the country's 63 provinces.
Ministers are preparing contingency plans to extend restrictions beyond June 21, amid fears that a surge in infections of the Indian variant could lead to a spike in hospital admissions and deaths.
Left, Boris Johnson. Right, Nadhim Zahawi
Public Health England analysis shows of the 12 people who have died with the variant in the country, eight were unvaccinated, two had a first dose, and two had both doses of a vaccine
He did not specify the number of cases that have been recorded with the new variant, but said Vietnam would announce more details soon.
It is likely to have been circulating for a month already, based on how Vietnam's cases surged, and scientists in Britain have said it's vital to act fast to try and keep out new variants - although they admit it is impossible to stop it forever.
<div class="art-ins mol-factbox news halfRHS" data-version="2" id="mol-addd60c0-c29e-11eb-b463-89e1c0f619c9" website T3 opens as dedicated 'red list' terminal TODAY