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At Bengaluru airport, crowds and lack of masks make many uneasy

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 violators.

Written by Darshan Devaiah BP | Bengaluru |
Updated: April 6, 2021 11:50:48 am
Bengaluru airportPassengers not following social distancing at Bengaluru airport. (Express Photo)

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 is a study in how this is easier said than done.

Many travelers have noted how social distancing norms are not followed on premises and many passengers are still not wearing masks.

Dr Pavan Patil from Gadag, a member of Karnataka Medical Council (KMC), who was travelling to Hubballi on Monday morning, said he was shocked to see how negligent the passengers were. He said there was no social distancing being followed at the airport and since eateries are open, people ended up removing masks within the closed environment.”

“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,” he added.

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 violators.

“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.

Bengaluru-based communication professional Tinu Cherian Abraham too noticed how the airport was terribly crowded as airlines are back to almost normal capacity. “Airports and airlines try to enforce the Covid-19 restrictions, but ultimately it’s the passengers who have to follow the rules,” said Abraham who recently returned from a trip to Kerala.

Abraham said that while at the Bengaluru airport, alternate seats are blocked, the problem is people are standing closely in groups. “When boarding also, people are in close proximity to each other and practically it is also difficult to maintain social distancing. Except for the masks and face shield, everything in the airport is like it was before,” he added.

A Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) spokesperson said the airport authority has constituted a dedicated team of airport officials to focus on ensuring that 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,” the spokesperson said in a reply to a mail.

The spokesperson said BIAL 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,”  he said, adding that safety protocols are displayed at the airport in addition to signage and announcements in Hindi, English and Kannada.

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