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Bengaluru airport fails to create awareness on Covid-19 protocols; passengers violate restrictions

Recently, the Aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had found the compliance of Covid-19 protocols at the country’s airports to be “not satisfactory”, and consequently asked all airport operators to step up surveillance.

Despite the circular issued by the Airport Authority of India (AAI) recently asking airport operators to ensure Covid-19 protocol is followed properly after the sudden rise in Coronavirus cases in India, the Bengaluru International Airport has failed to comply with the various covid protocols or creating awareness, complain passengers.

Dr Pavan Patil from Gadag — also a member of Karnataka Medical Council (KMC) — who was travelling to Hubballi on Monday early morning, was shocked to see passengers not following social distancing and not wearing masks inside the airport premises.

Speaking to Indianexpress.com, Dr Pavan Patil said, “I was shocked to see how negligent were the passengers and the airport authorities in following the Covid-19 protocols amid the second wave. No social distancing; eatery points are open and so definitely, people will open their masks in a closed environment which will increase the cases.”

“The Bengaluru airport authority and officials have to increase awareness about Covid-19 protocols to the passengers. Though the airport authorities have put up markings to maintain social distancing and about wearing masks, no one is checking the passengers or asking them to wear masks properly and follow social distance. With all this, how can we expect the second wave to be of less impact?” Dr Patil questioned.

Recently, the Aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had found the compliance of Covid-19 protocols at the country’s airports to be “not satisfactory”, and consequently asked all airport operators to step up surveillance while exploring the possibility of imposing spot fines on those violating rules such as improper wearing of masks and social distancing.

“During the surveillance of some airports, it has come to notice that compliance (of Covid-19 protocols) is not satisfactory … Accordingly, all airport operators may enhance surveillance towards this end. The possibility of taking punitive action, such as levy of spot fines in accordance with law, shall also be explored with the local police authorities so as to serve a deterrent for violation of Covid-19 protocol,” the DGCA noted in an advisory circular issued on March 30.

Tinu Cherian Abraham, a Bengaluru-based communication professional who recently travelled to Kerala from Bengaluru airport, says that the airport is terribly crowded and airlines are back to normal running in full capacity. “Airport and airlines try to enforce the Covid-19 restrictions but ultimately, the passengers have to follow the rules,” he told Indianexpress.com.

One of the observations Tinu shared is that in Bengaluru airport, alternate seats are blocked from seating which he says is good but the problem is people are standing closely in groups, which should be avoided. “When boarding also, people are in close proximity to each other and practically it is also difficult to have social distance and have enough space since the gate is also adjacent. Except wearing a mask and face shield now, everything in the airport is back to normal,” he added.

Meanwhile speaking to Indianexpress.com, Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) Spokesperson said that the airport authority has constituted a dedicated team of airport officials at the Terminal, who will focus on ensuring that the passengers wear a mask properly. “So far, passengers have been cooperative, but in case there are instances where passengers refuse to wear masks, BIAL will work with airlines and the concerned government security agencies to deal with such incidents,” BIAL Spokesperson said in a reply to a mail to Indianexpress.com.

“We will continue to work closely with the government agencies to ensure passengers and visitors follow Covid-19 safety protocols. The State Police and health departments have been mandated to penalise people who do not wear a mask in public areas. BIAL will continue to raise awareness on the importance of following Covid-19 safety guidelines,” the spokesperson added.

“To this effect, we have published the Covid-19 safety protocols on the digital displays at the airport. In addition to display signage across the Terminal, we ensure frequent PA announcements in three languages: Hindi, English and Kannada,” the spokesperson said.

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