London Heathrow will begin passenger temperature checks this week

May 18, 2020

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Update 18 May 2 p.m.: As of Thursday 21 May, London Heathrow will begin screening for high temperatures of passengers arriving at Terminal 2. As was originally announced in early May, Heathrow will use thermal imaging cameras to scan the body temperatures of arriving passengers in order to identify travellers who might have the coronavirus.

If Heathrow deems the trial in the immigration hall of Terminal 2 to be successful, the scanning will be expanded to departure halls and connection areas.

The U.K.’s largest airport is set to trial new technologies in order to reduce the risk of contracting or transmitting the coronavirus while travelling. Among those trials is scanning the temperatures of passengers as they’re passing through the airport.

London Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye informed the House of Commons Transport Committee that the airport will trial the processes, which “could form the basis of a Common International Standard for health screening at all global airports”.

In a press release, the airport said that concepts included in the trial include: UV sanitisation, facial recognition thermal screening technology and contact-free screening equipment to reduce person-to-person contact.

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The first of the trials is temperature screening, which uses a camera to monitor the temperature of passengers travelling through the airport. First, in the next two weeks, the cameras will be deployed in Terminal 2’s immigration halls, and if successful, they’ll be rolled out to departures, connections and colleague search areas.

SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE - MARCH 22: People wearing masks walk past a temperature screening area at Terminal 1 of Changi Airport on March 22, 2020 in Singapore. To combat the spread of the coronavirus, Singapore is imposing a ban on short-term visitors starting from 11:59 pm on March 23. (Photo by Ore Huiying/Getty Images)
People wearing masks walk past a temperature screening area at Terminal 1 of Changi Airport on 22 March 2020 in Singapore. (Photo by Ore Huiying/Getty Images)

Terminal 2 is one of two terminals that is currently open at the airport — the other being Terminal 5. The other two terminals, as well as one runway, have been shut as a result of the coronavirus.

Holland-Kaye said the airport was already carrying out temperature checks at departure gates where the destination requires screening.

Other trials include UV sanitation, which would be used at security to sanitise trays. Findings from the trials will be shared with the government and other U.K. airports.

Before any of the concepts are rolled out across the airport, Heathrow said that they will be reviewed to ensure they’re medically grounded, are practical for airports to deliver and will help to build consumer confidence.

“Aviation is the cornerstone of the U.K. economy, and to restart the economy, the government needs to help restart aviation”, Holland-Kaye said in a statement. “The U.K. has the world’s third-largest aviation sector offering the platform for the government to take a lead in agreeing a Common International Standard for aviation health with our main trading partners.

This Standard is key to minimising transmission of Covid-19 across borders, and the technology we are trialling at Heathrow could be part of the solution”.

In April, one of the smallest commercial airports in the U.K., Bournemouth Airport (BOH), announced that it was the country’s first to install the fever-detection cameras for screening passengers. At the time, Holland-Kaye had been pushing the government to implement action to screen passengers.

Elsewhere around the country, three U.K. airports — Manchester (MAN), London Stansted (STN) and East Midlands (EMA) — now require passengers to wear gloves and face masks when travelling.

Featured photo by Tim Ireland/Xinhua via Getty Images.

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