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

New Delhi: 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 mask and maintain social distance 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 a deterrent for violation of COVID-19 protocol," it stated.

The March 13 circular had asked the airport operators to hand over the passengers, who are not following the COVID-19 protocol even after repeated warnings, to the security agencies.

Moreover, it had asked the airlines to de-board the passengers who refused 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, as per 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 these passengers refused to wear masks onboard the flights, others refused to put on PPE gowns that are compulsory for those sitting in the middle seats.

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