A Heathrow spokesman said on Friday: “We’re adapting Heathrow to this longer-term reality by initially opening a dedicated arrivals facility in Terminal 3 from June 1 for red list passengers arriving on direct flights.
It comes amid concern about overcrowding at Britain’s largest airport, with possible health implications for staff and passengers.
The UK government has banned travel from “red list” countries, such as Brazil, Pakistan, India, South Africa, and Turkey, for all passengers except British or Irish nationals or UK residents.
“While opening this facility will be very challenging logistically, our hope is that it will enable Border Force to carry out its duties more efficiently as passenger volumes increase in line with the green list,” said the spokesman.
Tony Smith, a former Border Force chief, said the move is “a step in the right direction.”
“We do want to segregate people arriving from red list countries from green list countries because the processes are different,” he told BBC Breakfast.
“People from red list countries aren’t allowed in unless they’re British or Irish or a resident here, so maybe people are refused entry, and then those that do arrive have to go securely to a hotel to serve their 10 days’ quarantine.
“You don’t really want lots of people from green list countries banked up behind them, that’s just going to make matters worse.
“So I do think it’s a step in the right direction by Heathrow but I’m afraid it’s not a panacea and people are still going to face delays regardless of where they come from.”
Passengers coming to the UK have to fill out paperwork before travelling to make sure they are COVID-19 compliant. These papers are checked before they board their flight, but also by border guards when they reach a UK airport.
Under the UK government’s CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus restrictions, passengers landing in England must have proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test and a completed passenger locator form. Anyone arriving without these documents faces a £500 ($696) fine.
Airlines are also subject to financial penalties if they fail to ensure passengers have these documents before they arrive in England.
The airport revealed last month that its losses from the pandemic increased to £2.4 billion ($3.4 billion).
PA contributed to this report.