New Delhi: Union civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri earlier said that keeping the middle seat empty would not be a viable option for airlines, which are resuming their operations after a gap of two months from May 25. It won’t either serve the purpose of social distancing as the gap between two seats inside a flight is not of six feet — the distance recommended to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. Also Read - COVID-19 Cases Cross 1.6 Lakh-mark; Death Toll Above 4,600; Shah Speaks to CMs Over Lockdown Extension | Key Points
While it’s not yet clear how the airlines will maintain social distancing inside the planes, in the SOP of the Airport Authority of India, the airports have been asked to mark chairs with a sticker of ‘do not sit’ so that proper distance is maintained at the airport. Also Read - Coronavirus: Total Tally Reaches 1.58 Lakh as India Prepares For Staggered Opening From Next Week
In case, the middle seat is not kept empty, there will be a sharing of the two hand rests among three people — doubling the risk of contracting COVID-19. The airlines and the airports have been asked to keep enough supply of hand-sanitisers. Also Read - Coronavirus: Punjab Govt to Decide on Lockdown Extension on May 30
Here’s the SOP:
1. Wearing face mask is must. The airports will monitor whether all passengers are wearing masks.
2. 2. 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.
3. Passengers will be discouraged to use trolleys as that would increase person-to-person contact.
4. Airlines will be asked to deplane passengers in batches.
5. Everything that enters the premises of an airport will be sanitised.
6. Passengers will have to reach the airport at least before two hours of the flight schedule.
7. 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.
8. There will be a thermal screening of passengers.
9. Markings like a circle or a square should be provided around the baggage collection for ensuring social distancing
10. Hand sanitisers shall be made available at various locations.
11. 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.
12. Regular fumigation at taxi pickup and drop off points outside the airport.
13. Only private cars and specific cab operators allowed for pick-up and drop.