London’s Heathrow Airport is introducing UV cleaning robots, as well as a series of other anti-viral measures, to minimise the risk of contracting Covid-19 as the UK eases travel restrictions.
The UK’s largest airport says the new cleaning robots use ultraviolet rays to “quickly and efficiently kill viruses and bacteria”. The airport has two of the robots, and they are used to remotely clean the toilets at the airport.
Heathrow Airport joins a few airports around the world that are using cleaning robots in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, including Hong Kong International Airport and Singapore Changi Airport.
The airport is also rolling out a number of other cleaning measures in an effort to reduce the risk of contracting or transmitting Covid-19 at the airport. These new measures include installing UV handrail technology on escalators to “ensure continuous disinfection of the moving handrails” and fitting security, lift buttons, trolley and door handles with self-cleaning anti-viral wraps 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, said the airport in a statement posted on its website.
Heathrow says it is also retraining 100 colleagues to serve as “hygiene-technicians” who thoroughly disinfect the airport and answer passenger queries on the methods being used.
These technicians are tasked with monitoring the effectiveness of these new technologies and help inform plans to roll these projects out across the entire airport.
Passengers travelling through Heathrow will also see “Fly Safe Pit Stops”, which the airport says are points where travellers can pick up face masks, anti-viral wipes and hand sanitiser free of charge.
“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,” says the airport.
The new measures come as UK holidaymakers can now travel between low-risk countries without the need to quarantine on return. According to the BBC, the UK has labelled countries as either amber (travellers from the UK will not have to quarantine on arrival), green (low levels of coronavirus and have restrictions for UK arrivals), or red (restrictions remain in place) based on the severity of Covid-19 in each destination.
In a statement posted on its website, Heathrow says “more work is needed to safely restore Britain’s long-haul network. With a long country exclusion list, over half of Heathrow’s network remains grounded, closing off vital trading and economic routes during a time when the UK needs them most”.
“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 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,” said Heathrow CEO, John Holland Kaye.