Heathrow show off new coronavirus safety measures
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Heathrow Airport has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, however, even with most flights grounded, the flight hub has remained open. Yet this has come at something of a cost to the airport.
A new ITV documentary series, Heathrow: Britain’s Busiest Airport, lifts the curtain on what life is like at the airport during lockdown and how it plans to welcome back passengers in the future.
Filmed in November 2020, the airport was hit with the news England would enter a month-long national lockdown.
As a result, travel was reserved only for those working, repatriating home or for essential purposes as set out by the Government.
Demand for flights had already dropped by more than 60 percent worldwide, according to the documentary, and Heathrow had moved from running around 650 flights per day to just 88.
“It is quiet,” said passenger service manager Denny.
He pointed out there were only two boards displaying a full day’s worth of flights; whereas in normal times there would be between nine and 10.
Despite this, the airport worker remains hopeful the new measures in place will help bring back customer confidence once leisure holidays are back on the cards.
“It’s going to recover. It might take a couple of years but passengers will want to fly again – 100 percent,” he said.
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“We’ve just got to ensure we give them the confidence to fly as an airport.”
When it comes to new measures, no cost is spared.
As the documentary points out, they have put in place a number of “weapons of mass disinfection”.
“We’ve got a one-way system to stop people from mixing and bumping into each other,” said Denny.
“At the ticket desk, they’ve got perspex screens in between. The self-service machines [also have] perspex screens.”
What’s more, self-service screens can also be sprayed down by an automatic device that shoots a fine mist of sanitiser over the touchpoints
There are also staff members armed with special disinfecting guns.
They explain their job is to “spray everything that people touch” with a special “D10” mixture which is “killing corona”.
Furthermore, dedicated Covid marshals wander the functioning terminals, keeping an eye out for anyone not obeying policies.
“We’ve got them out and about making sure everyone’s wearing a face-covering make sure they are social distancing and sticking to the rules,” said Denny.
However, perhaps the most eye-catching and costly of the new measures are a series of robots who are tasked with keeping the toilets fully sanitised.
“There are robots on wheels which go in and I think they fully sanitise the toilets,” said the airport worker.
The machines appear to mechanically move down through the cubicles, spraying a mist of disinfectant over every surface including walls and floors.
“They’re not cheap, but if that’s what excites you and to keep a bit more confidence in people coming and checking in and going on their flights,” continued Denny.
“Obviously they can’t be in lockdown but this is what it’s about until it gets sorted.”
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