Consider imposing fines on passengers not wearing masks 'properly': DGCA to airports

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New Delhi, Mar 30 (PTI) Aviation regulator DGCA on Tuesday told airports to increase surveillance to ensure COVID-19 norms are followed and consider imposing spot fines, with the help of police authorities, on passengers who are found not wearing masks properly and not maintaining social distancing.

On March 13, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had asked airports and airlines to ensure that passengers wear masks and maintain social distancing at all times during air travel, and take action against those violating the norms.

In a circular issued on Tuesday, the regulator said, 'During the surveillance of some airports, it has come to notice that compliance (of COVID-19 protocols) is not satisfactory.' 'All airport operators, therefore, are requested to ensure that the instructions on 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,' it said.

Accordingly, all airport operators can increase surveillance in this regard, the DGCA said.

'The possibility of taking punitive action, such as levy of spot fines in accordance with the law, shall also be explored with local police authorities so as to serve as a deterrent for the violation of COVID-19 protocols,' it stated.

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri also took to Twitter on Tuesday and said that people must wear face masks, covering their nose and mouth, and maintain social distancing in aircraft and at airports.

'We are moving in direction of punitive action by police against passengers who don't comply,' he said.

The DGCA's March 13 circular had asked airport operators to hand over to security agencies passengers who do not follow the COVID-19 protocol even after repeated warnings.

Moreover, it had asked the airlines to de-board the passengers who refuse to adhere to COVID-19 norms even after repeated warnings and consider treating them as 'unruly'.

An 'unruly' passenger can be banned from flying by an airline for any period between three and 24 months, according to DGCA norms.

Fifteen passengers who were found violating COVID-19 norms on domestic flights of three airlines between March 15 and March 23 might be banned for three months by carriers, senior officials of the DGCA had said last week.

These 15 passengers included nine of IndiGo, four of Alliance Air and two of AirAsia India.

While most of them refused to wear masks on board the flights, others refused to put on PPE gowns that are compulsory for those sitting in the middle seats. PTI DSP DIV DIV