Domestic flight services in India resume on May 25: Here’s all you may need to know

India gears up to resume domestic flight operations from Monday (May 25, 2020) nearly two months after the country wide lockdown had been imposed as a preventive measure against the novel coronavirus disease.

New Delhi: India gears up to resume domestic flight operations from Monday (May 25, 2020) nearly two months after the country wide lockdown had been imposed as a preventive measure against the novel coronavirus disease.

Though the nation is currently under a lockdown till May 31, several restrictions have been lifted which includes permitting transport services and reopening of shops. The start of train and flight services is seen as Centre’s efforts to gradually open the economy of the country which has suffered a severe blow.

Except for two states Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal who will recommence domestic flights from May 26 and May 28 respectively, flights will be operable all across the country from tomorrow.

The West Bengal government has been trying to restore its essential infrastructure and services hit by Cyclone Amphan and so flight services in the state have been deferred til May 28. 

Meanwhile, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has released new Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) for airports ahead of the resumption of domestic flight operations. A list of guidleines to be followed by passengers who will take the journey by flight.

Wearing of protective gear such as gloves and masks has been mandatory while one rule urges passengers to reach the airport early by a minimum of two hours before departure.

Here’s the list of guidelines issued by the AAI:

-Passengers will have to reach airport two hours in advance

-Passengers should wear masks and gloves

-Only those whose flight is in the next four hours will be allowed to enter terminal building

-Compulsory thermal screening for all passengers before entering terminal building

– Avoiding use of trolley which will be available to a select few passengers on request basis

-Aarogya Setu app has been made mandatory except for children below 14 years of age

-Sanitization of passengers’ baggage by the airport authority before entry into the terminal building.

-Passengers will have to go through a thermal screening zone on the city side of the airport before entering into the terminal building.

-Mandatory social distancing at airports.

-Upgraded security procedures to ensure minimal contact between passengers and airport employees.

-Mandatory use of face masks by passengers as well as airport employees.

-Enhanced security and airport employees at check-in counters to assist passengers in maintaining social distancing norms.

-Constant announcements about social distancing and other norms

-Boarding and deplaning in batches to maintain social distance

-The AAI has suggested the blockade of seats between individuals by using proper markers and tapes to ensure social distancing between people sitting at the airport terminals.

-The use of alternate check-in counters has been prescribed by the AAI to avoid congestion.

– Mats, carpets soaked with bleach – sodium hypochlorite solution – to be placed at entry for disinfection of shoes

-Every airline company will have its designated CUSS kiosk so that they can deploy their staff to help passengers.

-The AAI has asked for the proper provision of Personal Protective Equipment including face masks and sanitizers.

-The AAI has recommended the use of PPE wherever deemed necessary.

-The AAI has asked for cleanness and sanitization of ‘every nook and corner’ of the terminal buildings including washrooms, chairs, counters, X-ray machines, trolleys, travellators, escalators, lifts, railings, doors, etc.

-The use and supply of Newspapers and magazines at airports/lounges have been restricted by the AAI.

Assuring the safety and security of all passengers undertaking bus, train or plane rides, the Union Health Ministry too issued a set of rules not disimilar to that of the Centre cautioning people while entering a public space. 

Here’s the guidelines issued by Health Ministry

* Dos and Don’ts shall be provided along with tickets to the travellers by the agencies concerned.
* All passengers shall be advised to download Arogya Setu app on their mobile devices.
* Suitable announcement about COVID-19 including precautionary measures to be followed shall be made at airports/railway station/bus terminals and in flights/trains/bus.
* The States/UTs shall ensure that all passengers shall undergo thermal screening at the point of departure and only asymptomatic passengers are allowed to board the flight/train/bus.
* During boarding and travel, all passengers shall use face covers/mask. They will also follow hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene and maintain environmental hygiene.
* At airports/railway stations/ bus terminals required measures to ensure social distancing shall be taken.
* Airports/railway stations/bus terminals should be regularly sanitized/disinfected and availability of soaps and sanitizers shall be ensured.
* Thermal screening at exit point shall be arranged.
* Asymptomatic passengers will be permitted to go with the advice that they shall self-monitor their health for 14 days. In case, they develop any symptoms, they shall inform the district surveillance officer or the state/national call center (1075).
* Those found symptomatic will be isolated and taken to the nearest health facility. They will be assessed for clinical severity at the health facility.
* Those having moderate or severe symptoms will be admitted to dedicated COVID Health facilities and managed accordingly.
* Those having mild symptoms will be given the option of home isolation or isolated in the Covid Care Centre (both public & private facilities) as appropriate and tested as per ICMR protocol.

Meanwhile, India on Sunday recorded its highest-ever single-day spike in infection cases pushing the total tally to 1,31,868 which includes 73,560 active cases, 54,440 recoveries and 3,867 fatalities.

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