Airport lounges look set to be the next casualty of the coronavirus pandemic, with London's Heathrow Airport this weekend closing almost all of its business and first class lounges following a decree by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to shut down social hubs such as pubs, clubs, restaurants, cinemas, theatres and gyms across the country.
British Airways had already locked the doors of several lounges at its Heathrow Terminal 5 home last week, from the invitation-only Concorde Room to its T5 Galleries North and T5B Galleries spaces, with Qantas set to pull down the shutters on its Terminal 3 lounge once the last flight back to Australia departed on Friday March 27.
However, Johnson's unexpected and unprecedented decision caught airlines and their premium passengers by surprise, with all airline lounges immediately closed in line with the government's directive. The closures are expected to remain for at least 30 days.
Heathrow's lounge cull could extend to other countries if similar bans on group gatherings are put into place.
Some airlines are considering adopting 'social distancing' measures in lounges at other airports, although as one airline executive wryly remarked to Executive Traveller, "social distancing won't be a problem, the lounges are almost empty anyway."
In related new, London Heathrow is expected to this week announce the temporary closure of Terminal 4, with its airlines being split between Terminals 2 and 3, while British Airways is said to be relocating its Terminal 3 flights – most of which spear into Europe, with a handful of longer-range routes to the US and South Africa – across to Terminal 5.