CHENNAI: The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has formed a team of employees to ensure that passengers wear face masks and follow social distancing inside the terminals at Chennai airport.
The compliance team moves around the domestic and international terminals and reminds passengers to maintain social distancing and also to wear masks.
The move comes after there were complaints that many people were not wearing masks and following social distancing at the airport.
Airlines have started to penalize passengers for not wearing masks in flight.
A senior AAI official said, “The initiative was started three days ago. Staff are deployed on rotation every day. They move in teams of three and remind passengers to wear masks if they find anyone without masks in domestic and international terminals.” He said, “This is a step forward from creating awareness. Many measures are already in place for creating awareness for Covid-19 precautions. There are notices, boards, announcements. Volunteers too have been roped in earlier to spread awareness.”
Periodic awareness programmes are being done. Staff and volunteers from the UN conducted a programme outside the terminals recently.
Though these campaigns are done, people not wearing masks outside the terminals. Many people who come to drop or see off passengers do not wear mask.
It is now difficult for people to walk in without a mask as CISF and other staff remind them to use one after the ministry of civil aviation has asked for strict compliance.
However, social distancing has gone for a toss at the entry and exit, security check, security hold area inside the terminals. In the arrival terminal, baggage conveyor is a point where a lot of crowding happens as some times bags of more than one flight are delivered in one conveyor. This leads to at least 200 people standing around waiting for bags at a time.
“Passengers get tired of wearing masks inflight for long hours. A few of them tend to lower it after disembarking,” said an airline official. On Saturday, the domestic terminal was crowded and people were moving about as if the risk of a pandemic has subsided.
People are wearing masks inflight but many are not wearing the face shield and PPE suit. Officials expect passenger movement to be high in the coming days because of Easter extended weekend.
The airport has started to see an increase in the number of passengers, making social distancing impossible in the terminals. On March 25, around 22,000 passengers travelled on 219 domestic flights in Chennai airport.