London‘s Heathrow Airport will open a dedicated terminal for red list arrivals from today.
Now, London’s busiest airport has converted Terminal 3 into a red-list only arrivals zone. The terminal was previously unused during the pandemic due to a reduction in international flights.
Flights are only permitted from a few of the red list nations – including India where the latest variant originates – and arrivals must be British and Irish nationals or UK residents.
Travellers from these countries must isolate for 10 days in a quarantine hotel.
Those from amber list countries can quarantine at home, and green list arrivals – nations with the least risk of exported Covid cases – don’t need to isolate at all.
Heathrow is the only UK airport which has dedicated a terminal to red list arrivals so far.
But other airports quizzed by the BBC – including Bristol, London’s City Airport and Gatwick – have no direct red list flights coming in at this time.
It comes as ministers are preparing contingency plans to extend restrictions beyond June 21- ‘freedom day’ – amid fears that a surge in cases of the Indian variant could lead to a spike in hospital admissions and deaths.
London’s Heathrow Airport has converted Terminal 3 (file image, pictured) into a red-list only arrivals zone. The terminal was previously unused during the pandemic due to a reduction in flights
Travellers from red list countries must isolate for 10 days in a quarantine hotel
A passenger arriving from red list India (left) and another arriving from New York in amber list US (right) in Heathrow last month
Previously, those arriving from 43 high-risk countries – such as India , Brazil and South Africa – were mixing with others from lower-risk amber and green nations (pictured last month) in airport queues sparking outrage
Cambridge professor Ravi Gupta warned there are signs that the UK is in the early stages of a third wave of coronavirus infection and that the lifting of restrictions on June 21 should be postponed.
And Government minister George Eustice acknowledged England’s ‘Freedom Day’ could be in jeopardy due to concerns about the spread of the Indian variant in the UK.
Daily coronavirus cases rose by nearly 40 per cent in a week to 3,240 yesterday.
The Government has faced mounting calls to ensure red list arrivals are separated from those coming in from other countries to limit the spread of Covid.
Until today, arrivals at Heathrow were going into the same queues at the border – raising concerns over social distancing.
Downing Street earlier insisted that it is down to airports to make sure border queues happen in a Covid-secure way, and that the Government is ‘doing everything possible to make this process as efficient as possible’.
Asked whether amber and red arrivals should be separated at airports, a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson last month said that ‘all arrivals should be managed in a way that is as Covid-secure as possible.’
Flights are only permitted from few of the red list nations – including India where the latest variant originates – and arrivals must be British and Irish nationals or UK residents. Pictured: Heathrow Airport
A Heathrow Airport spokeswoman said today: ‘Red list routes will likely be a feature of UK travel for the foreseeable future as countries vaccinate their populations at different rates.
‘We’re adapting Heathrow to this longer-term reality by initially opening a dedicated arrivals facility.’
It was last night revealed that Britons are still not banned from travelling to Vietnam even though a potentially dangerous new Covid variant has been found there.
It emerged over the weekend that a strain of the virus appearing to be a hybrid of the UK and Indian variants, both of which are fast-spreading, appeared in the country.
Daily coronavirus cases have risen by nearly 40 per cent in a week to 3,240 as deaths rose by 20 per cent
The red list was drawn up to slash the risk of Britain importing new variants of the virus that could risk vaccines not working.
There was uproar among scientists and politicians when it took weeks for India to be added despite it having the world’s worst outbreak – and a variant that emerged there is now dominant in the UK and threatens to wreck plans to end lockdown.
Despite this and the revelation that a new variant has sprung up in Vietnam, the country remains on the amber list, which means hotel quarantine isn’t required.
The variant is not yet internationally recognised so it is unknown whether it has spread to other countries.
Labour MP and shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth yesterday slammed the Government’s ‘weak, slow decisions on border policy’ for letting in the Indian strain.
The travel lists are due to be updated later this week after international travel was legalised on May 17.
Ministers are preparing contingency plans to extend restrictions beyond June 21, amid fears that a surge in infections of the Indian variant could lead to a spike in hospital admissions and deaths. Left, Boris Johnson. Right, Nadhim Zahawi
Public Health England analysis shows of the 12 people who have died with the variant in the country, eight were unvaccinated, two had a first dose, and two had both doses of a vaccine
Vietnam’s tough crackdown on the virus meant it has been largely untouched by the virus with a total of just 7,107 cases and 47 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
But that number of cases has more than doubled from just 2,900 at the beginning of May, which the health minister said could be due to the new variant.
Dr Nguyen Thanh Long said the new strain could be behind the variant now being in 30 of the country’s 63 provinces.
He did not specify the number of cases that have been recorded with the new variant, but said Vietnam would announce more details soon.
It is likely to have been circulating for a month already, based on how Vietnam’s cases surged, and scientists in Britain have said it’s vital to act fast to try and keep out new variants – although they admit it is impossible to stop it forever.
EUROPE HOLIDAY HOTSPOTS SET TO STAY ON AMBER LIST
The lockdown ban on international travel came to an end on May 17 but only a handful of countries were on the no-quarantine travel list – namely Portugal, Iceland and Gibraltar.
Next week, on June 3, ministers will reconsider whether it’s safe for Brits to go to different destinations and any rule changes will come into action on June 10.
Malta and the Balearic Islands, as well as some Greek islands, could find themselves on the list, The Independent reports, and Spain’s tourism boss is hopeful that the travel to more of the country’s territory could be on the cards soon.
The mainland and Italy and France are unlikely to make it onto the green list this time, however, because they still have higher infection rates than the UK.
Ministers are judging the safety of countries based on their numbers of cases, vaccination progress and risk of new variants emerging.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has hinted that the green list could be expanded in the coming weeks but has said only that it was a hope, not a certainty.
Boris Johnson was slated by MPs after allowing thousands of people to fly to the UK from India after the variant had emerged there.
Yvette Cooper, Labour MP and shadow foreign secretary, said about the Indian variant spreading in Britain: ‘This was not inevitable, it is just the latest in a long list of examples where the Government was too slow to act at the border,’ The Telegraph reported.
‘Instead of adding India to the “red list” at the start of April, when it added neighbouring countries like Pakistan, the Government inexplicably waited another two weeks.’
She added: ‘If we had learned the lessons from the countries who got this right during the first wave, we would have taken precautionary action early to keep this new variant out. Yet the Government is still making the same basic mistakes at the border all over again.’
Jonathan Ashworth said yesterday: ‘The single biggest threat to [ending lockdown] is ministerial incompetence.
‘Today ministers remain engulfed and distracted by internal rows and blame shifting at just the moment we need a laser like focus on this variant.
‘Weak, slow decisions on border policy let this variant in, continued lack of sufficient self-isolation support and a stand off with local public health directors over vaccination policy failed to contain it.’
Vietnam, which is in South East Asia beneath China and on the South China Sea coast, is a popular travel destination and in normal years hundreds of thousands of Brits visit.
Although the Government is advising people not to go there at the moment it is not illegal, if they can get a visa from the Vietnamese government, and hotel quarantine isn’t required when arriving back in the UK.
The purpose of the red and amber travel lists was to minimise the risk of a new variant being imported into Britain and countries were added to red if this risk was high.
The Department for Transport says: ‘You should not travel to amber list countries or territories.’
However, people who are not British citizens or residents are allowed into Britain if they have been to an amber list country, which they aren’t for red list nations.
It comes Britain’s hugely successful vaccine drive continues, with thousands of young people yesterday descending on Twickenham Stadium hoping to get a Covid jab as part of a special one-day vaccination event.
A huge queue, described by some as being ‘longer than those at Glastonbury’, was seen outside the west London venue on Monday, as thousands of young vaccine hopefuls lined-up to get their Covid jab.
Thousands of people are tonight making a mad dash to jump the Covid vaccine queue by taking part in a one-time only event at the home of English rugby
Queues, described by some ‘as long as those to get into Glastonbury’, are tonight forming outside Twickenham Stadium in west London as people rush to get their Covid jab
Organisers say there are now enough people in the queue to use up all 15,000 doses. Earlier today organisers had warned hopefuls to get to the stadium before 7.30pm in order to get a jab
Earlier in the day, the under-30s had been given green light to get their vaccination at the special walk-in event at the 82,000-seater ground.
Bosses behind the scheme had been aiming to shift 15,000 doses and push them above their vaccine targets for the Hounslow area – which has recently been involved in a surge testing and vaccination project due a spike in Indian variant cases.
But after a steady start, organisers sparked a vaccine free-for-all by throwing open the doors anyone aged over-18 – even though the national roll-out is currently focused on the over-30s.