London's Heathrow Airport Opens Separate Terminal for Travelers Arriving From High-risk Countries

Passengers arriving from "red-list" countries like Brazil and Turkey will be among those sent to a separate terminal.

A previously closed terminal at London's Heathrow Airport has been reopened in order to accommodate travelers arriving from high-risk countries.

Last month, the U.K. implemented a traffic light system for international travel, categorizing countries in three tiers based on their COVID-19 risk levels. So far, travelers from 43 "red-list" countries, including India, Brazil, and Turkey, are barred from entering the U.K.

British and Irish nationals and residents, however, may return from these destinations deemed as COVID-19 hot spots and will now pass through a specified terminal. According to USA Today, critics say this move should have been made long ago to prevent interactions — and potential spread of COVID-19 — among passengers arriving from "green" and "amber" countries with those at higher risk.

Since February's implementation of mandatory hotel quarantines, "red-list" passengers have been using the same terminals and airport facilities as other travelers, albeit in separate lines. That changed this week. Terminal 3, which closed in April 2020 due to a low number of international arrivals, will now serve as the dedicated arrivals area for passengers traveling from high-risk countries.

Passengers push their luggage past signage displaying the way to a Covid-19 test centre, in Terminal 5 at Heathrow airport in London, on June 3, 2021.

According to current travel restrictions, "red-list" passengers must quarantine at a hotel for 10 days. Nationals, residents, and tourists arriving from "amber" countries like the U.S. must also complete a mandatory 10-day quarantine, but are allowed to do so at home or wherever they're staying in the U.K.

These new safety measures come as COVID-19 cases in the U.K. are generally trending downward, but cases of the coronavirus variant first identified in India have increased, causing concern among local health officials.

Despite last year's limited travel opportunities, Airports Council International data shows that Heathrow is one of the busiest airports in the world for international travelers. The airport welcomed 20,650,473 international passengers last year — a 72.8% drop from 2019.

Jessica Poitevien is a Travel + Leisure contributor currently based in South Florida, but she's always on the lookout for her next adventure. Besides traveling, she loves baking, talking to strangers, and taking long walks on the beach. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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