As per the latest guidelines, passengers who refuse to wear masks properly before take off will be taken off the aircraft.
While, passengers who do not wear the mask as per “Covid-19 protocols”, which essentially involve wearing of masks properly — not below the nose, despite repeated warnings will be treated as ‘unruly’.
The DGCA has directed airlines, airport operators and CISF to ensure that passengers wear masks and maintain social distancing norms at all times during air travel and also at all times within the airport.
“In case, any passenger is not following Covid-19 protocol (that includes not wearing masks properly or not following social distancing norms), they should be handed over to security agencies after proper warnings. If required, they may be dealt as per law,” the aviation regulator said.
The order was issued to all airlines, airport operators and security agencies to ensure “strict compliance of Covid-19 protocol during air travel.”
Furthers, once classified as unruly, a passenger can be barred for flying anywhere up to a lifetime depending on the gravity of violation of safety norms by him or her.
The regulator says that some air travellers are not adhering to Covid protocols, which essentially involves wearing of mask properly — not below the nose and during all times of the journey from entering the airport for departure to exiting the airport after arrival.
“…some passengers after entering the airport do not wear mask properly and also do not maintain social distance while being in the airport premises. Similarly, some passengers have been noticed not wearing their masks properly while on-board the aircraft,” the order says.
“The mask shall not be moved below the nose except under exceptional circumstances. CISF or other police personnel deployed at airport entrance shall ensure that no one is allowed to enter the airport without wearing a mask,” the DGCA order says.
Observing that some passengers after entering the airport do not wear their mask properly and maintain social distance while being in the airport, the regulator said that some passengers have been noticed not wearing their masks properly while on board the aircraft.
“On board the aircraft, in case any passenger does not adhere to wearing a mask properly even after repeated warnings, he/she should be de-boarded, if need be, before departure,” the circular said.
“In case, any passenger on board an aircraft refuses to wear mask or violates the Covid-19 protocol for passengers even after repeated warnings, during the course of the flight, such passenger may be treated as ‘unruly passenger’… and the procedure in respect of handling such unruly passenger shall be followed by the concerned airline. The adherence to above directions shall be ensured by all concerned with immediate effect. Strict action shall be taken in case of any violation,” the order added.
The DGCA order comes after a high court judge observed blatant violation of Covid norms by passengers on a domestic flight recently and directed DGCA to issue orders for strict compliance of the pandemic-time rules by all travellers.