So­cial dis­tanc­ing, curbs to mark flight and train travel

Hindustan Times (Jalandhar) - - HT SPOTLIGHT - Anisha Dutta n anisha.dutta@hin­dus­tan­times.com

NEWDELHI: So­cial dis­tanc­ing re­quire­ments on long-dis­tance travel modes such as trains and flights are likely to re­quire op­er­a­tors to adopt dras­tic new mea­sures, most of which will also im­pact the eco­nom­ics of their busi­ness.

The civil avi­a­tion and the rail­ways min­istries are con­sid­er­ing sev­eral re­stric­tions such as crowd man­age­ment, screen­ing of pos­si­ble in­fected per­sons and new rules that will make masks manda­tory for all pas­sen­gers as part of stan­dard op­er­at­ing pro­to­cols (SOP) likely to be put in place when trains and flights can be re­sumed.

One such SOP, re­leased by the Air­ports Au­thor­ity of In­dia re­cently, sug­gests that flights are likely to re­sume at close to a third of their usual ca­pac­ity, and air­port ter­mi­nals will open with only a few out­lets for food and bev­er­ages. Ac­cord­ing to the SOP, seat­ing ar­range­ment shall be done in such a man­ner so as to main­tain so­cial dis­tanc­ing (1-1.5 m) among pas­sen­gers us­ing chair sat ter­mi­nals. “Staff shall be de­ployed near wash­rooms, con­vey or belts, etc, to guide pas­sen­gers to main­tain suf­fi­cient dis­tance,” it said.

Civil avi­a­tion anal­y­sis agency CAPA said the cur­rent fi­nan­cial year will be hard on air­lines. “Po­ten­tial so­cial dis­tanc­ing and in­spec­tion pro­to­cols when ser­vices re­sume will se­ri­ously im­pact the abil­ity of air­lines to even re­cover their vari­able costs,” it said.

Re­stric­tions will also be im­posed for trav­el­ling in trains. The rail­ways min­istry is pre­par­ing de­tailed guide­lines for sale of tick­ets; so­cial dis­tanc­ing and other safety mea­sures to be ob­served at train sta­tions, train plat­forms and within the trains for fa­cil­i­tat­ing move­ment of stranded mi­grants for now.

There will be strict norms for pas­sen­gers in­clud­ing ar­riv­ing hours be­fore the jour­ney, down­load­ing the Aar­o­gya Setu app to dis­play a health sta­tus and manda­tory ther­mal screen­ing, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cials.

Pas­sen­gers will have to wear masks and ap­ply hand san­i­tiz­ers be­fore and af­ter board­ing. In­side the trains, strict so­cial dis­tanc­ing will be en­sured, and the min­istry is also mulling the idea of leav­ing the mid­dle berth va­cant and de­ploy­ing only non-AC coaches, added the of­fi­cials quoted above.

RAJ K RAJ/HT PHOTO

Com­muters at the Ra­jiv Chowk Metro Sta­tion in New Delhi on March 13.

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