Domestic flights resume operations; Centre and State issue guidelines(SOPs) for Travellers safety
With domestic flights resuming operations from 25th May for major cities across the country the government is taking every possible initiative to revamp the normal life. India had suspended all flights on 25 March when the government first imposed a nationwide lockdown due to COVID-19. Several discussions were held between officials of states, civil aviation ministry and airline representatives to discuss the resumption of operations. The discussions covered the quarantine rules for flyers, standard operating procedures for airports, and the safety procedures to be followed by the passengers and airline crew to safely resume the operations.
All airports and airlines were informed by the government to prepare for resuming proper operations but the Indian airlines reopened advance bookings for passenger flights from 1st June onward even before the government plans to resume flight services were announced from 25 May. The Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs) for passenger movement has been issued by the ministry of civil aviation and the Union Health Ministry has also separately released guidelines for travellers on domestic and international flights for safety. The airlines have been strictly advised not to board anyone showing symptoms of Covid-19. Travelling passengers will have to submit an undertaking before boarding flight that they would undergo a compulsory quarantine for 14 days: which includes seven days paid institutional quarantine at their own expense after that seven days isolation at home with self-monitoring of health — according to the Health Ministry guidelines
The states have agreed to accept few flights to resume initial services but have also announced their own set of quarantine and self-isolation rules for the arriving passengers as per the assessment in line with the consultation from the Central government guidelines. Airline Carriers have resumed operations from all major Indian airports and tier-one cities airports but they have been advised to operate at only one-third of their capacity.
SOP for Domestic Flights
- Passengers should reach the airport two hours in advance of flight time
- Passengers will be allowed to enter the terminal building if their flights are within four hours
- Passengers should wear masks and gloves
- Passengers who don’t show ‘green’ on Aarogya Setu will not be allowed to enter the airport
- Aarogya Setu app is not compulsorily required for children below the age of 14 years
- Sanitisation of baggage before entry into the terminal
- At passenger touchpoints, staff have to either wear face shields or put glass wall at the counter
- Constant announcements about social distancing and other regulations should be done
- Boarding will be done in batches to maintain appropriate social distance
- The seating arrangement of passengers must maintain social distancing by blocking those seats that are not to be used, with proper markers/tapes
- All airport staff have to wear PPEs
- Hand sanitisers for Staff and Passengers to be provided
- Newspapers and magazines not to be provided in the Terminal building/Lounges
- Every State governments and administrations have to ensure public transportation as well as private commutes for passengers and airline crew
- Using Trolleys will not be allowed in the arrival or departure sections, except for people with special cases
INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT OPERATIONS
With the domestic operations already underway the Aviation Minister is also hopeful to commence the International Civil aviation operations with a percentage of flights, if not the overall international operations before August or September if the situation deems favourable.
Mr Puri said during a Facebook live session”I am fully hopeful that before August or September, we will try to start a good percentage of international civil aviation operations if not complete international operations,”
Guidelines for International Arrivals
- Before boarding, all travellers shall give an undertaking that they would undergo compulsory quarantine of 14 days which includes 7 days paid institutional quarantine at their own expense, followed by 7 days isolation at home with self-monitoring of health.
- Only for few exceptional and compelling reasons such as cases of human distress, pregnancy, death in the family, serious illness and parent(s) accompanied by children below 10 years, as deemed fit by the receiving states, home quarantine may be permitted for 14 days with the use of Aarogya Setu app compulsory in such cases.
- Dos and Don’ts guidelines shall be provided along with the ticket to the travellers by the agencies concerned.
- All passengers shall be compulsorily advised to download the Arogya Setu app on their mobile devices.
- At the time of boarding the flight/ ship, only asymptomatic travellers will be allowed to board after the thermal screening.
- Passengers arriving through the land borders will also have to undergo the same protocol as above, and only those who are asymptomatic will be enabled to cross the border into India.
- Self-declaration form in duplicate shall be filled by the person in the flight/ship and a copy of the same will be given to Health and Immigration officials present at the airport/ seaport/ land port. The form may also be made available on the Aarogya Setu app.
- Suitable precautionary measures such as environmental sanitation and disinfection shall be ensured at the airports as well as within the flights.
- During boarding and at the airports, all possible measures to ensure social distancing to be followed.
- Suitable announcement about COVID-19 including precautionary measures to be followed shall be made at airports/port and in flights/ships and during transit.
- While onboard the flight/ ship, required precautions such as wearing of masks, environmental hygiene, respiratory hygiene, hand hygiene etc. are to be observed by airline/ ship staff, crew and all passengers.
- On arrival, thermal screening would be carried out in respect of all the passengers by the Health officials present at the airport/ seaport/ land port.
- The passengers found to be symptomatic during screening shall be immediately isolated and taken to the medical facility as per health protocol.
- The remaining passengers shall be taken to suitable institutional quarantine facilities, to be arranged by the respective State/ UT Governments.
- These passengers shall be kept under institutional quarantine for a minimum period of 7 days. If they test positive, they shall be assessed clinically. If they are assessed as mild cases, they will be allowed home isolation or isolated in the COVID Care Centre (both public & private facilities) as appropriate.
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