New Delhi: Amid rising casing of Covid-19 cases, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Saturday directed Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and other police personnel deployed at the entrance of the airport to deny entry to passengers who are not wearing masks.
As per the latest guidelines, passengers who refuse to wear masks properly or don’t follow “Covid-19 appropriate behaviour” before take off will be “de-boarded”.
“Covid-19 protocols” for passengers essentially involve wearing of masks properly — not below the nose, despite repeated warnings will be treated as ‘unruly’.
India’s Covid-19 tally jumped to 11,333,728 after it added 24,882 cases in the span of 24 hours. This is the fourth time that the country’s single-day cases have crossed the 20,000-mark this year. The active cases also soared to 202,022, after a downward trend since January 20, as 4,785 new cases were added in the last 24 hours, comprising 1.74% of the total cases seen so far. The death toll stood at 158,446 after 140 fresh fatalities.
The DGCA has asked airport authorities to keep strict vigilance that no person is allowed inside the airport with a face mask. The airline regulatory authority has also directed airport operators and security agencies to ensure that passengers wear masks and maintain social distancing norms at all times during air travel and also at all times within the airport.
“In case, any passenger is not following COVID-19 Protocol they should be handed over to security agencies after proper warnings. If required, they may be dealt as per law,” the regulator said in the statement. “The adherence to directions shall be ensured by all concerned with immediate effect. Strict action shall be taken in case of any violation,” it added.
Furthermore, once classified as unruly, a passenger can be barred for flying anywhere up to a lifetime depending on the gravity of violation of safety norms by him or her.
“On board the aircraft, in case any passenger does not adhere to wearing a mask properly even after repeated warnings, he/she should be de-boarded, if need be, before departure,” the circular issued by the DGCA said.
“In case, any passenger on board an aircraft refuses to wear mask or violates the Covid-19 protocol for passengers even after repeated warnings, during the course of the flight, such passenger may be treated as ‘unruly passenger’… and the procedure in respect of handling such unruly passenger shall be followed by the concerned airline. The adherence to above directions shall be ensured by all concerned with immediate effect. Strict action shall be taken in case of any violation,” the order added.
Observing that some air travellers are not adhering to Covid protocols, which essentially involves wearing of mask properly — not below the nose and during all times of the journey from entering the airport for departure to exiting the airport after arrival, the regulator said in its order, “…some passengers after entering the airport do not wear mask properly and also do not maintain social distance while being in the airport premises. Similarly, some passengers have been noticed not wearing their masks properly while on-board the aircraft.”
“The mask shall not be moved below the nose except under exceptional circumstances. CISF or other police personnel deployed at airport entrance shall ensure that no one is allowed to enter the airport without wearing a mask,” the DGCA order further read.
The DGCA order comes after a high court judge observed violation of Covid norms by domestic flight passengers recently and directed the airlines regulatory body to issue orders for strict compliance of the pandemic-time rules by all the travellers.