Heathrow starts Covid-19 temperature check trials

Trials of temperature screening equipment have started at Heathrow.

The deployment of the thermal equipment in Terminal 2 is part of a wider initiative looking at technology that could reduce the risk of contracting or transmitting Covid-19 in the future

Observations from trials to be shared with government as the boss of the London hub reiterated the need for a common international standard for health screening across all international airports.

The thermal screening technology is being deployed in Terminal 2’s immigration hall to detect “elevated temperatures” of arriving passengers.

The start of the trial comes as the government considers the implementation of ‘air bridges’ across destinations with low Covid-19 risk, to protect public health while enabling the travel of goods and services that is needed to kick-start the economy.

The technology being tested trial uses camera detection systems capable of monitoring the temperatures of multiple people moving through the airport.

Passengers will be alerted to the trials through signage placed at the immigration hall, but will otherwise see no visible change to their arrivals journey as no other screening methods will be needed.

No personal data will be stored or shared through these trials, the airport stressed.

The equipment could be introduced across the airport into departures, connections and staff search areas to further stress test its capabilities.

“Heathrow is clear any measures or technology must satisfy certain tests if it is introduced as mandatory in the future,” the airport said.

Staff will be wearing face coverings from this week with masks handed out to passengers in addition to 600 hand sanitiser stations and perspex barriers for frontline contact points and social distancing reminders.

Heathrow will also explore the use of UV sanitation to sanitise security trays and contact-free security screening equipment to reduce person-to-person contact.

Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “We welcome the secretary of state for transport’s ‘air bridge’ proposals to allow trade to continue between destinations with low Covid-19 risks.

“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 that rely on aviation, but are currently at risk.”

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