Given the sudden rise in Covid-19 cases in India, the Airport Authority of India (AAI) has issued a circular, asking airport operators to ensure Covid-19 protocol is followed properly. The AAI circular comes just a few days after the DGCA (Director General of Civil Aviation) directed all airlines to deboard passengers who don't wear masks properly and place them in the "unruly passenger" category.
"During the surveillance of some airports, it has come to notice that compliance is not satisfactory. All airport operators, therefore, are requested to ensure that the instructions on the Covid-19 protocol from the standpoint of wearing face mask properly, covering nose and mouth, as well as maintaining social distance norms within the airport premises are followed scrupulously," the AAI said in a statement today.
The airports have also been asked to enhance surveillance and, if needed, take punitive actions such as a levy of spot fines to stop people from violating the Covid-19 protocols.
The DGCA, in its strongly-worded circular on March 21, had ordered airlines to de-board passengers if they fail to wear masks properly inside aircraft or don't follow COVID-19 appropriate behaviour. "If a passenger violates protocol despite repeated warnings, then the passenger will be treated as 'unruly passenger'," the aviation regulator said.
The DGCA also said that CISF or police personnel deployed at the entrance of the airport must ensure that no one is allowed to enter the airport without wearing a mask. "In case any passenger is not following COvid-19 protocol, they should be handed over to security agencies after proper warning. If required they may be dealt as per the law," the circular suggests.
Following the circular, several airlines had reported many individuals to the authorities for not wearing masks or failing to follow social distancing norms at airports.
India is facing a sudden spike in Covid-19 cases, especially in March. The country saw 56,211 in the last 24 hours and 271 people succumbed to the contagion. Maharashtra remains the worst affected state, with total cases topping over 27.13 lakh, of which over 23.32 lakh have recovered. Maharashtra has reported 54,181 COVID-19 deaths and over 3.27 lakh active cases. States like Punjab, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, and Odisha are also seeing a spurt in Covid-19 cases.
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