Fliers violating COVID-19 norms could be put on no-fly list
The Civil Aviation Ministry on Saturday said passengers refusing to adhere to COVID-19 protocols and norms like wearing masks and maintaining social distancing could attract action as per law. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) issued a circular, saying such violators could be deboarded before departure or treated as unruly passengers. Reportedly, they may even be put on a no-fly list. Here's more.
DGCA's circular said travelers must always wear masks and maintain social distancing—inside airports and onboard flights. It said Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) or other police personnel at entrances will ensure "no one is allowed to enter the airport without wearing a mask." It added many passengers were violating norms by not wearing masks or not wearing them properly and flouting social distancing rules.
DGCA stated the airport director or terminal manager will ensure passengers are wearing masks and maintaining social distancing, failing which they would be given a warning or handed over to security agencies. Noting that some travelers weren't wearing masks or following other rules after entering airports or while onboard the aircraft, it said masks shouldn't be moved "below the nose except under exceptional circumstances."
According to the circular, people refusing to wear masks properly even after repeated warnings could be deboarded, if needed, before the flight's departure. And, passengers onboard flights who don't follow COVID-19-appropriate behavior despite warnings would be treated as "unruly passengers" and the concerned airline will take action against them. DGCA said these rules would be implemented with immediate effect and violations attract strict action.
"Onboard the aircraft, in case any passenger does not adhere to wearing a mask properly even after repeated warnings, he/she should be de-boarded...before departure," stated the circular. "In the case of any passenger onboard an aircraft refusing to wear a mask or violates the 'COVID-19 Protocol for passengers' even after repeated warnings...such passengers may be treated as 'unruly' passengers," added the DGCA.
Moreover, such violators could also be placed on a no-fly list for varying periods—three months for verbal abuse, six months for physical assault, or two years or more for life-threatening behavior, according to an order reportedly issued by DGCA. "The internal committee constituted by an airline to look into the incident will decide which category the offense falls," said a senior DGCA official.