Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye has written to Matt Hancock
Wants an internationally agreed standard of measures to check passengers
Mr Holland-Kaye will tell Mr Hancock that airports are coming in for unfair criticism over the Government’s decision not to test
By TOM PAYNE TRANSPORT CORRESPONDENT FOR THE DAILY MAIL
PUBLISHED: 22:13, 23 April 2020 | UPDATED: 02:42, 24 April 2020
The boss of Heathrow is urging ministers to introduce mass screening at airports, the Daily Mail can reveal.
In a major intervention, chief executive John Holland-Kaye is writing to Health Secretary Matt Hancock to demand stringent regulations to combat Covid-19.
The airport’s bosses want an internationally agreed standard of measures, which could include temperature checks, antibody tests and a requirement that all passengers carry health passports proving they are medically fit.
They also want Public Health England (PHE) to release data proving the Government’s claims that temperature screening is ineffective.
The demand for action from the head of Britain’s biggest airport comes amid mounting anger over the total lack of checks and tests at the nation’s airports – decried by one senior industry figure as a ‘disaster’.
Officials believe about 15,000 passengers are arriving unchecked into the UK every day, including 10,000 at Heathrow.
Incredibly, not a single traveller is being checked for signs of Covid-19 – even though thousands are arriving from virus-ravaged countries such as China, Italy and Iran.
Britain’s approach is in stark contrast to other nations which have either closed their borders entirely, or introduced stringent checks on arriving passengers.
These include measures such as mass temperature screening and mandatory quarantining.
In the UK, temperature checks have not been introduced after PHE said they were ‘ineffective’ against a virus that can have an incubation period of up to 14 days.
Experts said entry screening would detect only a small number of cases and the decision not to test was made by the Department of Health and Social Care.
Instead, under a system of ‘enhanced monitoring’ passengers are handed information leaflets and told to self-isolate for 14 days after landing – although officials admit they have no way of enforcing this.
Critics say the decision not to limit arrivals and check passengers threatens the health of the nation and makes a mockery of the lockdown conditions imposed on the rest of the UK.
Last night the powerful transport select committee confirmed plans to investigate the policy on airport testing.
Mr Holland-Kaye will tell Mr Hancock that airports are coming in for unfair criticism over the Government’s decision not to test.
He has called for an international standard of screening to revive confidence in air travel once the pandemic is over, which could include permanent social distancing as well as temperature and antibody tests at British airports.
Other airport bosses have said the absence of checks is creating a false impression that Britain’s airports are more dangerous than others, and warn it could have a long-term impact on passenger numbers.
Public health experts also questioned the Government’s approach.
Professor Gabriel Scally, of the Royal Society of Medicine, told the Financial Times: ‘The UK is an outlier. It is very hard to understand why it persists in having this open borders policy. It is most peculiar.’