As Covid-19 cases see a sudden spike in the country, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), in its latest strongly worded circular, has said passengers will be de-boarded if they don't 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's order issued today said.
The aviation regulator said some travellers undertaking air journey don't adhere to Covid-19 protocols, which essentially involves wearing of masks properly i.e. not below the nose, during all times of the journey from entering the airport for departure to exiting the airport after arrival. "It has also been noted that some passengers after entering the airport do not wear masks properly and also do not maintain social distance while being in the airport premises," it said.
The aviation regular has ordered that "passengers shall wear masks and maintain social distancing norms at all times during air travel". The circular also says that "masks shall not be moved below the nose except under exceptional circumstances".
The DGCA said CISF or other police personnel deployed at the entrance of the airport must ensure that no one is allowed to enter the airport without wearing a mask, the circular suggests. The airport director or terminal manager must also ensure passengers wear masks properly and maintain social distance within the airport premises. "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.
The DGCA has said the failure to not follow these guidelines could lead to de-boarding of the passenger. Those not following the guidelines despite repeated instructions should be treated as "unruly passengers" and strict actions should be taken against them, said the DGCA.
The latest DGCA guidelines comes as the country has seen a sudden spike in coronavirus cases. India's coronavirus graph rose to 1,13,33,728, with 24,882 new cases in the last 24 hours. The COVID-19 death toll surged to 1,58,446, with 140 new fatalities in the last 24 hours, pushing the death rate to 1.40 per cent. India has recorded 2,02,022 active COVID-19 cases as of March 13.
Maharashtra continues to be the worst-hit state, with a total of 22,82,191 COVID-19 cases. Out of these, 1,11,724 people have succumbed to the contagion whereas 21,17,744 people have been discharged. The state has 52,723 active cases as of March 13, 2021. States like Punjab, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are also contributing maximum to India's rising COVID-19 cases.