Heathrow Airport reopens Terminal 3 for red list arrivals

Jun 1, 2021

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Editors note: This story has been updated with new information

London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) Terminal 3 has reopened — but not for all passengers. Instead, the terminal has reopened solely for arriving flights from red list countries in an effort to stop these passengers from mixing with arriving passengers from green and amber list countries.

After having been closed for more than 12 months, Terminal 3 has reopened as of Tuesday. During the pandemic, Heathrow’s four active terminals were consolidated into two following reduced traffic.

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Prior to Tuesday’s reopening of Terminal 3, social media was filled with complaints and concerns that passengers flying in from green and amber list countries have been forced to queue at the border for hours and mix with passengers from high-risk countries. While those from red list countries like India and the United Arab Emirates are sent into managed hotel quarantine, green list passengers are free to head out into the general public, while amber arrivals have to quarantine at home.

The reopening of Terminal 3 is a temporary fix — Heathrow has said that red list arrivals will eventually be moved to Terminal 4 and the separation is likely to continue for some time.

“Red list routes will likely be a feature of UK travel for the foreseeable future as countries vaccinate their populations at different rates,” a spokesperson for the airport said. “We’re adapting Heathrow to this longer-term reality by initially opening a dedicated arrivals facility.”

The call for action to separate red list arrivals comes after India was added to the red list as cases spike in the country due to a new strain of the virus. England’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock said India was being added to the red list after 103 cases of the variant first discovered there were found in the U.K. though this number has since increased significantly.

The “vast majority” of those cases are said to have had links to international travel — suggesting some kind of community transmission.

“Heathrow has remained open throughout the pandemic at great cost to ensure that the U.K.’s supply lines are protected and U.K. citizens can return home and we will work with government to ensure that remains the case,” a Heathrow spokesperson said in a statement. “Our main concern is that U.K. Border Force is able to provide an acceptable level of service to all arriving passengers.”

Countries placed on the red list are deemed high risk, and non-national and non-resident visitors from those countries are banned from entering England. Those travellers who are allowed in must quarantine for 10 days in a hotel approved by the government — costing at least £1,750 per stay.

Related: All 43 countries that are on the UK’s travel red list

Ben Smithson and Emily McNutt contributed to this story.

Featured photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Stringer/Getty Images.

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