Thursday 8 July 2021 7:01 AM UTC
LONDON July 8: Heathrow is to begin fast-tracking fully vaccinated passengers arriving at the airport under a pilot scheme from later this week, says reports. The programme involves travellers coming into the London airport from selected destinations in Europe, the US and the Caribbean on British Airways and Virgin Atlantic flights.
Heathrow said fully-vaccinated travellers of all nationalities would be able to present proof of vaccination in digital or paper format at check-in “to help prove vaccination status can be quickly and easily checked away from the border and allow safe entry to the UK”.
It comes as the travel industry steps up pressure on the government to allow quarantine-free travel from destinations that remain on the “amber” list under COVID-19 traffic light travel rules. The airport aims to show that passengers’ vaccination status can be verified at check-in as it presses ministers to ease rules.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps will reportedly on Thursday set out plans to ease restrictions on people arriving from amber countries, who currently have to self-isolate.
The government has previously said that the quarantine requirement will be dropped “later this summer” for people who have been double vaccinated. The prime minister Boris Johnson is said to favour doing so from 19 July, the date when other coronavirus restrictions will be lifted, according to The Times.
Heathrow, BA and Virgin have said it is essential that there is no delay in implementing the changes.
Passengers who are part of the Heathrow trial will continue to have to adhere to the current quarantine rules for those arriving from amber destinations.
The pilot programme will initially involve fully vaccinated volunteers travelling on selected flights from Athens, Los Angeles, Montego Bay, Jamaica, and New York.
Heathrow said: “The trial aims to reassure Government that airlines and airports can check vaccine status upstream and away from the border, ensuring no further pressure in UK immigration halls.”
John Holland-Kaye, the airport’s chief executive, said: “This pilot will allow us to show that pre-departure and arrival checks of vaccination status can be carried out safely at check in, so that fully vaccinated passengers can avoid quarantine from 19 July.”
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