A terminal that has been closed since April 2020 at London's Heathrow Airport has been reopened to serve passengers arriving from high-risk countries.
Starting Tuesday (June 1), red list arrivals will be required to pass through the airport's Terminal 3, which has, for more than a year now, sat mostly empty due to drops in passenger demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement, Heathrow said it set up the facility because "red list routes will likely be a feature of U.K. travel for the foreseeable future.”
The news comes after critics, for a while now, have long complained how red list passengers have been allowed to use the same arrivals terminal – although in separate lines – alongside thousands of other travellers from other destinations.
Being on Britain’s “red list” refers to travel from one of 43 coronavirus hotspots that the U.K. has as identified.
This includes India, Brazil, Turkey and South Africa and U.K. citizens and residents who return from such countries face a mandatory 10-day quarantine in a government-approved hotel.
Signs indicate that not everyone is happy with how the decision to reopen Terminal 3 was made.
The decision comes "at extremely short notice, meaning key social distancing procedures are not in place,” said the Public and Commercial Services Union, which represents border staff, the Associated Press reported.
"This is another poorly planned initiative that will be understaffed and rely on volunteers to do overtime, to avoid mounting queues," the union said.
While a mass vaccination campaign is underway in the United Kingdom, local COVID-19 case numbers are reportedly on the rise again as a highly-contagious variant, named Delta by the World Health Organization, first identified in India, spreads across the region.
Reports say the government will announce on June 14 whether its latest relaxation of COVID restrictions will be delayed.
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