Heathrow calls for COVID-19 test on arrival

The CEO of Heathrow Airport, John Holland-Kaye, has said that airports should be allowed to test arriving passengers for the coronavirus, thereby reducing the amount of time people would need to spend in quarantine. The current rules for England state that people arriving in the UK from some countries must self-isolate for 14 days.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Holland-Kaye said that the government’s recent short-notice changes to travel guidance for Spain highlighted the need for an alternative.

He said the cost of such a test would be about £150 per person if conducted at the airport, which he acknowledged was “not cheap”, but he believes that there would be people who are prepared to pay the fee. “There people who are worried about being able to go back to work or get the kids into school, there will be people who are prepared to pay that to avoid the extra period of quarantine,” he added.

Speaking to the BBC’s Today programme, he said: “The aim would be to have a test on arrival at airport. We could have it up and running in the next two weeks, then we need to work with government to see what happens next.”

He explained that under the airport’s plans, passengers would go into quarantine and have another test after eight days: “If they were infected, we would be confident that it had shown itself. If it was clear, they would be allowed to go out of quarantine earlier than had been the case. It’s very scientifically based.”

The government has said that all quarantine measures are constantly under review.