Domestic flight passengers need not be in 14-day quarantine: Aviation minister

There will be no 14-day quarantine for passengers when domestic flight operartion resumes from Monday says Union civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri.

“The quarantine issue will be dealt with in a pragmatic manner. We can’t have 14 days quarantine. It is not practical,” the aviation minister said.

“In case you test positive, then you will not even be permitted to enter the airport or board flights,” Puri added. His statement has come during the discussion about the reviewed SOPs that flyers need to follow when flights recommence on May 25.

Minister had earlier announced that domestic flight services would recommence  in a calibrated manner from May 25 onwards. In a tweet, Puri said that all airports and air carriers are being informed to be ready for operations from Monday onwards. He added that the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for passenger movement is also being separately issued.

Subsequently, Airport Authority of India on Thursday has released a new guideline making it compulsory to wear face mask inside a plane. It has also an instruction to keep the passengers in batches while disembarking. The boarding process should be entirely contactless, the guidelines said.

Guideline Measures:

  • Wearing face mask is must. The airports will monitor whether all passengers are wearing masks. Also Read – Domestic Flights to Resume on May 25 in Calibrated Manner: Aviation Ministry.
  • Every passenger must have Aarogya Setu App downloaded in his or her phone. Only children below the age of 14 are exempt from this. If a passenger is not under the purview of a tracing app, then he or she will not be allowed to board the plane.
  • Passengers will be discouraged to use trolleys as that would increase person-to-person contact.
  • Airlines will be asked to deplane passengers in batches.
  • Everything that enters the premises of an airport will be sanitised.
  • Passengers will have to reach the airport at least before two hours of the flight schedule.
  • But if a passenger reaches the airport too early — over four hours before the scheduled time — they won’t be allowed entry inside the airport.
  • There will be a thermal screening of passengers.
  • Markings like circle, square should be provided around the baggage collection for ensuring social distancing.
  • Hand sanitisers shall be made available at various locations.
  • Sanitisation of every nook & corner of the building and public areas including washrooms, chairs, counters, trolleys, railings, doors, lifts, escalator’s etc. to be done before the arrival of the flight and after the last passenger leaves the Terminal Building.
  • Regular fumigation at taxi pickup and drop off points outside the airport.
  • Only private cars and specific cab operators allowed for pick-up and drop.

Seating arrangement: This was a guideline for the airports. A different SOP will be released for the flights after consultation with the airlines.

Civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri has said he is not in favour of keeping the middle seats empty once the domestic flights resume services. While the empty seats will become a burden on the passengers as they would have to pay a higher fare to make the flight operations viable, leaving just a seat empty will not be enough as the distance between the window seat and the aisle seat is not 6 feet — the prescribed distance of social distancing to keep COVID-19 at bay.