Surgical, N-95 masks mandatory in airports

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KATHMANDU, JUNE 5

Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) has made it mandatory to wear either surgical or N-95 masks during air travel.

Issuing a ‘Guidance to Airlines, Airports and Ground Services for Operations during COVID-19’ today, CAAN has said that wearing normal face masks will not be acceptable and that everybody, including the general public, air travellers, air operators, airport operators, ground handling agencies and aviation professionals will have to wear either surgical or N-95 face masks.

As per the guideline, the passengers will not be allowed to move around in the aircraft cabin during the flight unless urgently required and they have to wear face masks during the entire flight duration.

Passengers with symptoms of fever, cough, shortness of breath and loss of taste or smell will not be allowed to fly.

Likewise, meeting and greeting at the airport will not be permitted and the passengers will have to bring their own personal belongings like pens and sanitising towels.

Similarly, on-board newspapers, magazines and in-flight catering services in domestic flights will not be permitted.

Furthermore, the air travellers and crew members will be required to fill out and submit a COVID-19 self-declaration form to the air operator.

The guidance has been issued to all stakeholders, including air operators, airport operators, ground service providers, aviation personnel, airport staff, and other stakeholders for compliance with the respective guidance.

As per the guidance, only limited flights to some specific sectors based on safety assessment will be allowed to operate.

Gradual increment in schedule will be executed based on evaluation of the situation.

Meanwhile, all international passengers will be required to complete Passengers Locator Card (PLC) and submit it at the health desk at the arrival section.

The guideline has further mentioned that elderly passengers (above 70 years), pregnant women and those with serious medical conditions should avoid air travel.

Regarding the air operators, they should prepare their own Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) that should consider elements in CAAN’s guidance as minimum for the purpose of resumption of flight during COVID-19 pandemic. And such SOPs need to be approved by CAAN for flight resumption.

The guideline has also stated that all crew members should be provided with adequate safety tools like masks, gloves, goggles and personal protective equipment (PPE).

Likewise, temperature scanning of all crew members should be carried out before each flight.

The government has suspended all the domestic and international flights till June 14. After that the CAAN is preparing to resume domestic flights and gradually international flights on priority basis.

Tribhuvan International Airport has been renovated with marking for social distancing and other facilities have been arranged to maintain hygiene at the airport.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on June 6, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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