The London airport has begun trialling the technology which can detect body temperature from a distance of eight feet. It is part of efforts to ease travel restrictions and potentially circumvent the need for a 14-day quarantine period for travellers entering or returning to Britain. Cameras have been installed in the immigration hall of Terminal 2 with the aim of detecting if people entering the UK have a fever, a common symptom of coronavirus.
Heathrow’s chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “To unlock the full benefits of aviation for the economy, a common international standard for health screening must be agreed by the global authorities – and the technology we are trialling now could be a part of this solution.
“As one of the world’s great trading nations, the UK should take a lead in setting a global plan to reopen borders, when it is safe to do so. This will help protect millions of British jobs currently at risk that rely on aviation.”
Mr Holland-Kaye said signs in the immigration hall will alert passengers to the trials, but there should be “no visible change to their arrivals journey”.
He also backed the idea of air bridges, a route between two countries where the Covid-19 outbreak is under control.
He continued: “The Government has got a tough job to do. If they think the quarantine is the right thing to do I think we have to go with that but it has to be time-limited and we have to plan for what comes next.
“The idea of air bridges is a sensible way of doing that.
“There is no perfect way to make sure only healthy people fly at this stage, so we have to take a risk-based approach.”
Heathrow said no personal data will be stored or shared in the trials and no other screening methods will be required.
If successful, the technology may be introduced in other sections of the airport, including departures, connections and colleague search areas.
From this week, all employees working at the airport will wear face coverings.
Staff will hand out masks to any arriving and departing passengers who do not have their own.
More than 600 sanitising stations have also been introduced, along with enhanced cleaning regimes, signage displaying health advice, perspex barriers and social distancing reminders.
Heathrow will also explore the use of ultraviolet to quickly and efficiently sanitise security trays and contact-free security screening equipment to reduce person-to-person contact.
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