As domestic flight operations resumed on Monday after a hiatus of two months, Chandigarh International Airport saw an unprecedented scenario as Punjab residents faced stringent checks, including mandatory testing, while others were allowed to get away with just thermal screening.
The airport located in Punjab also caters to passengers from Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and Haryana. As states and UTs were allowed to develop their own protocol regarding quarantine and isolation, the Punjab government issued directives for its domestic passengers to home quarantine and get tested compulsorily. However, the state government’s orders were changed in the evening, leading to confusion.
On arrivals, all passengers were guided through the visitors hall where each one was asked to show their IDs and about their native place, following which the Punjab-based passengers were directed to the Punjab government desk, where their samples were taken for COVID-19 test. Punjab government officials collected samples of 133 domestic passengers at the airport.
Meanwhile, Chandigarh administration took an undertaking from its passengers that they will self-monitor their health for 14 days. At the airport, social distancing among passengers was ensured by the airport staff.
A total of 142 passengers arrived at the airport from Indigo’s Mumbai flight, 67 passengers from Indigo’s Delhi flight, 122 passengers from Indigo’s Bengaluru flight, 88 passengers from Air Asia’s Bengaluru flight and 31 from Vistara’s Delhi flight.
From Chandigarh, 38 passengers departed in Indigo’s Mumbai flight, 71 took Indigo’s Delhi-bound flight, 54 took Indigo’s Bengaluru-bound flight, 39 left the UT in Air Asia’s Bengaluru flight and 25 took Vistara’s Delhi-bound flight.
In addition to this, Air India 463, Delhi-Chandigarh flight brought 23 passengers to the UT. The AirIndia464, Chandigarh-Delhi flight flew with 63 passengers. Through the AirIndia9831, Delhi-Chandigarh flight, 17,arrived at the UT and through AirIndia832, Chandigarh- Delhi flight, 10 flew to Delhi.
Over not testing domestic passengers, Chandigarh Adviser Manoj Parida said, “As the UT we are bound by the MHA orders and we are following that.”
As there were no tags that were to be attached to the bags, passengers were seen with bags on which names and PNR number were written or glued. The passengers were handed over face shields and were seen carrying the print out of their boarding pass as only web check-in was allowed.
Before the passengers entered the airport, they had to walk through a stretch of mat which was sprayed with sanitiser so that the lower surface of their shoes gets sanitised. It was sprayed after a set of passengers walked through the surface. After every 30 minutes, the mat was sprayed with a disinfectant solution.
A resident of Bangalore, who works at Panchkula’s Pinjore, Mohammad Khan said, he was happy as he will be meeting his family on Eid. “It was for the first time that all my Rozas were spent without family. What can be more special for me that I will be seeing them on Eid. Hence, I am going by the first flight,” he said.
A woman leaving for her in-laws’ place in Bangalore was seen with her baby tied to her wrist with a walking wrist belt so that the child does not touch any surface.
Bathinda-based Riya, who works in Mumbai landed at the Chandigarh Airport from the first flight at 11.30 am. During her entire journey, she wore a PPE kit along with protective head gear, face shield and a mask.
Returning to Punjab, Riya was directed to submit her sample for Covid-19 test at the airport. “It does feel really hot in the PPE kit but I wore it through the entire journey and will remove it only after I reach home. As I am from Bhatinda, I was asked to give my samples and I did,” she said.
A Bathinda native, Deepak Arora, who works as an artist in Mumbai, said that he was stuck there for the last two months and is happy to be home.
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