NEWS: Robots join the battle against COVID at Heathrow & Testing to skip UK quarantine trial

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Following on from Doha’s robots and Robocop style helmets, Heathrow has unveiled further measures that reduce the risk of contracting or transmitting COVID-19 at the airport. 

The airport has kicked off a number of pioneering technologies including UV cleaning robots which use UV rays to quickly and efficiently kill viruses and bacteria at night; UV handrail technology is being fitted to escalators to ensure continuous disinfection of the moving handrails; and self-cleaning anti-viral wraps are being fitted to security trays, lift buttons, trolley and door handles, aiming to provide long-lasting protection from COVID-19. The wraps work by coating high-touch surfaces in a material with long-lasting anti-viral protection.

Heathrow is retraining 100 staff to serve as hygiene-technicians who thoroughly disinfect the airport and answer passenger queries on the methods being used. These technicians will continuously monitor the effectiveness of these new technologies and help to inform plans to roll these projects out across the entire airport.

Prior to these trials, Heathrow meticulously reviewed every step of the passenger journey to identify key touchpoints where anti-viral technologies would have the most impact. Fly Safe Pit Stops – points where passengers can pick up face masks, anti-viral wipes and hand sanitiser free of charge – are being rolled out at these touchpoints to keep travellers safe on their journeys. Teams at the airport are also reviewing technologies which could remove the need for passengers to touch self-service check-in machines, allowing them to control the kiosks from their phones.

These enhanced cleaning measures are in addition to several steps the airport has taken to ensure passengers feel safe when travelling, including the introduction of Perspex barriers in security areas and in some retailers, compulsory face coverings, one way systems as well as touchless services available on Heathrow and airline apps. In addition, passengers at Heathrow will now receive a notification on their iPhone or iPad with the latest COVID-19 guidance on travelling through the airport.

Heathrow CEO, John Holland Kaye, said: “We have reviewed the entire Heathrow airport experience to ensure that our passengers and colleagues are kept safe as travel resumes to “Green” and “Amber” countries. Now we need the Government to safely restore Britain’s long-haul connections as the country prepares for life outside the EU, with Common International Standards for COVID testing from “Red” countries.”

The temperature testing technology launched in May continues to perform well in a live operational environment, with the potential to quickly and seamlessly screen passengers with minimal impact to the passenger journey. The airport is ongoing talks with Government on next steps.

Heathrow will also soon be launching a trial to allow COVID-19 tests on arrival to allow passengers to skip the 14-day arrival quarantine if they prove negative. They are currently waiting for government approval.

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