Heathrow pre-departure COVID testing starts today: Is it worth it?
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Tuesday 20 October is the first day that passengers departing on flights from Heathrow will be able to get tested at terminals 2 and 5. The airport has partnered with Collinson and Swissport and will offer passengers the chance to get tested when departing, initially only on flights to Hong Kong and Italy. The test costs £80 and is a LAMP rapid saliva test. Passengers are advised to book their test in advance of arriving at the airport.
While that might sound like a step in the right direction, before you make the decision to wait till you are at Heathrow to get a test, read on to find out why this might not be a good use of your time and money.
For Italy, the U.K. government website states that Italy requires proof of a negative PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test upon arrival. The LAMP test that Collinson is providing at Heathrow is not a PCR test but rather a low-cost alternative which therefore would run the risk of being rejected upon arrival.
If you’re travelling to Hong Kong, it’s a different story. First of all, it’s worth noting that according to the U.K. government website, the only travellers allowed to enter Hong Kong are those with permanent residency — all other arrivals will be denied entry. If you are lucky enough to have residency in Hong Kong, a pre-departure nucleic acid test is still required and proof of this must be shown upon arrival. The LAMP test now available at Heathrow is a nucleic acid test that is an accepted form of testing for arrivals in Hong Kong. It’s worth noting that you will be tested for coronavirus again on arrival regardless of whether you took a test prior to departure.
In other testing news, Collinson states on its website that is has already installed an inbound PCR testing facility at Heathrow’s T2. Industry leaders are crying out for testing to be done at airports on arrival in the hope that it will reopen travel, give the aviation and airline industry a financial boost as well as kickstart international tourism again. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, the U.K. government still maintains that coronavirus testing on arrival won’t eliminate quarantine requirements.
Featured photo by Tang Ming Tung/Getty Images
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