London Heathrow Airport Could Start Offering COVID-19 Testing Upon Arrival — What to Know
London’s Heathrow Airport could soon offer COVID-19 testing upon arrival, allowing travelers from a non-approved country to bypass a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
The test would be the same type of saliva swab test currently used by the National Health Service (NHS) and would be the first testing trial at a UK airport, pending government approval. It would be especially available for travelers coming from countries that are not the UK's "travel corridor" that was established last week.
If approved by the government, testing would be available as a private service for anyone with a flight landing in Heathrow’s Terminal 2, according to a press release. The program, entitled "Test-on-Arrival," was developed by Swissport International, a ground and cargo handling service, and Collinson Group, which owns Priority Pass.
“The government made a significant step forward last week by removing quarantine for visitors from many countries, but we still need a solution that safely allows passengers to travel to and from higher-risk countries,” Heathrow's CEO, John Holland-Kaye, said in a statement. "This trial with Swissport and Collinson will provide a much-needed alternative to quarantine for those arriving passengers and should add further momentum to the Government’s push for Common International Standards which are needed for the resumption of global travel.”
To arrange for a test, passengers will need to set up an account and book a test ahead of their flight. The tests will be completed at the airport and then sent to a nearby biotech lab. If the passenger is from a country not pre-approved by the UK, they will then be asked to continue to the address they provided when they booked their travel and will receive their test results within 24 hours.
If the results are negative, they would be free to leave quarantine measures, provided government approval. If the results are positive, they will have to continue staying at their quarantine address for the next 14 days.
A spokesperson for Collinson did not immediately return Travel + Leisure's request for comment in regards to how much a test would cost, but a similar program currently underway in Vienna costs about $204 (€180).