Coronavirus Lockdown, Domestic Flights: Hardeep Singh Puri spoke on quarantine for air travel
International flight operations could start by mid-June or end-July if the COVID-19 virus “behaves in a predictable manner”, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said Saturday afternoon, during an online discussion with the public to clarify norms governing resumption of domestic flights from Monday.
“Why wait till August-Sept? If situation eases or improves, if virus behaves in predictable manner and we get used to idea of being able to co-exist with it, we’re in position to make arrangements. Why not start by June middle or end July?” Mr Puri asked.
Mr Puri also said there was no need to quarantine domestic air passengers who show “green” status on the Aarogya Setu app. He made a similar point during a press briefing on Thursday, during which he revealed details of revised flight operations, including air fares and the seven categories of routes.
“Don’t understand the need for quarantine of passenger who has green status on Aarogya Setu app,” Mr Puri said in his virtual meeting.
Mr Puri was responding to concerns that air passengers travelling during the COVID-19 lockdown may not need to go into quarantine or isolation on arriving at their destination.
Following his statement, as many as six states, including Kerala, Karnataka and Assam, insisted that people arriving via domestic flights will have to be quarantined.
This morning Karnataka said incoming passengers from six states with the most infections will have to undergoseven-day institutional quarantineand seven days of home isolation. Exemptions will be made for the elderly, the terminally-ill, children and pregnant women.
On Friday,Tamil Nadu urged the centre to rethink the reopening of air travel, citing a surge in coronavirus cases in state capital Chennai and non-functioning public transport, which will trouble passengers commuting between the airport and the city – a distance of around 10 kilometres.
Chennai airport has been closed for passenger traffic, as have all others in the country, since the COVID-19 lockdown began
On Thursday Mr Puri said anunnecessary “fuss” was being made over quarantineof domestic air passengers.
He pointed out that as perrevised SOPs governing air travel during the lockdown, those showing “red” on the Aarogya Setu app, which he promoted as an “excellent contact-tracing device”, would not even be allowed to enter the airport, let alone board a plane.
“I don’t know why we are making such a fuss on the quarantine issue.Bhai, this is domestic travel. Same laws will apply here that applies when you travel by train or a bus… People who are positive will not be allowed to board the flights,” he said.
All flight operations were stopped in March after a nationwide lockdown was ordered to halt the spread of the COVID-19 virus. On Wednesday Mr Puri said these would bere-started in a “calibrated” manner.
Resumption of domestic