Amidst the COVID-19 crisis, travel was banned in the country to ensure the prevention of the spread of coronavirus. After two months of the imposition of the lockdown and the subsequent restrictions on travel, the Government of India recently raised the ban on air travel for domestic routes. This was done by the Ministry of Home Affairs via order [No. 40-3/2020-DM-I(A)] which amended the guidelines of lockdown.
Under section 35 of this act, the Central Government, irrespective of any law in force, can issue any directions to any authority anywhere in India to facilitate or assist in disaster management. This power to issue orders also finds its roots in section 62 of the act and section 72 provides an overriding effect to the orders, as a result of which these orders have to be strictly followed by other ministries and state authorities. The ban was imposed on 25th March and will be lifted on 25th May 2020 as per the provisions issued by the Ministry of Civil Aviation [Order No. A.V.29017/5/2020-DT]. The provision contains detailed protocols to be followed by the general public as well as the Air travel authorities. It includes provisions for maintaining social distancing and the detailed protocol to be followed at the time of check-in, security check, boarding the flight, departure, arrival, and inside the aircraft has been specified. Restrictions on meals and luggage have also been imposed. The passengers will now be required to submit a self-declaration about their health along with mandatorily using of Aarogya Setu app.
People living in containment zones, and patients testing positive for COVID-19 have been restricted from traveling. The passengers are also required to submit declaration forms before traveling. The airlines and other stakeholders must follow a strict protocol and conform to the rules while taking necessary precautions. Training of all staff members regarding social distancing protocols has been made compulsory. “Air travel of passengers, both domestic and international, has been prohibited since 25th March 2020. Now it has been decided by the government that domestic air travel of passengers shall resume with effect from 25th May 2020 (order of MHA dated 20th May 2020). Accordingly, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has developed general instructions and detailed guidelines for air travel of passengers and major stakeholders (Airlines, Airports, Security Agencies, Ground Handling Agencies and Health Authorities, etc.) by incorporating necessary safeguards in consultation with experts and stakeholders.” -Ministry of Civil Aviation The government is moving towards ending the lockdown and investing resources and efforts towards rebuilding the economy. Air travel remains one of the areas which need immediate and substantial attention. To ensure that connectivity throughout the country can is established once again, this order by the government is a fundamental step towards normalcy in the country after the crisis. Hence, these comprehensive guidelines need to be followed by all the passengers and staff members to ensure the revival of air travel smoothly.