Heathrow demands 14-day quarantine for travellers policy should be phased out by end of June

Simon Calder
Check point: thermal imaging cameras will assess passengers' temperature as they pass through the airport terminal: Heathrow Airport

The boss of Britain's biggest airport has demanded that the government’s new quarantine policy must end within weeks.

The Home Office is expected shortly to announce details of mandatory 14-day self-isolation for inbound passengers to the UK.

The transport secretary, who is at odds with other Cabinet figures about the quarantine plan, has said it will begin early in June.

But John Holland-Kaye, chief executive of Heathrow airport, told the BBC: “This can’t be a solution for more than a few weeks.

“We must be sure that a health epidemic does not become an unemployment epidemic.”

The quarantine policy was outlined by the prime minister on 10 May, but wrangling over exemptions has delayed the announcement of a start date and the conditions for ending the mandatory 14-day self-isolation.

Travel-industry leaders have widely deplored the quarantine policy, describing it as “too much, too late”.

But the government is insisting it will go ahead, saying: “The scientific advice shows that when domestic transmission is high, cases from abroad represent a small amount of the overall total and make no significant difference to the epidemic.

“Now that domestic transmission within the UK is coming under control, and other countries begin to lift lockdown measures, it is the right time to prepare new measures at the border.”

The Heathrow demand coincides with the introduction of thermal imaging cameras at the airport. The devices will assess passengers' temperature as they pass through the airport terminal.

The aviation industry is desperate to put in place measures that reassure the travelling public and persuade governments to relax flight bans.

Mr Holland-Kaye said the cameras would provide an extra layer of protection.

“There is no perfect way to make sure only healthy people fly,” he said.

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