After a strict directive on "unruly passengers" on flights and in transit a few days ago, the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation has directed airports to start imposing spot fines—as a series of punitive measures for those who don't comply with the applicable COVID-19 guidelines.
The body has also ruled strict police action for offenders in a bid to tighten protocol compliance at airports. The surge in COVID-19 cases after a brief lull has necessitated a reassessment of SOPs at public places and travel guidelines. Over 73,000 (and counting) cases were recorded in the past 24 hours—the biggest single-day spike since October 2020.
The DGCA is reported to have conducted surprise checks recently and found violations of social-distancing norms and proper mask-wearing. The body stated in an advisory circular: “During the surveillance of some airports, it has come to notice that compliance (of Covid-19 protocols) is not satisfactory … Accordingly, all airport operators may enhance surveillance towards this end. The possibility of taking punitive action, such as levy of spot fines in accordance with law, shall also be explored with the local police authorities so as to serve a deterrent for violation of Covid-19 protocol."
Last month, Justice Hari Shankar had taken suo motu cognisance of people not wearing masks on an Air India flight and had the Delhi High Court direct DGCA to carry out frequent checks on whether mask-wearing was being done according to protocol.
Bengaluru's Kempegowda International Airport has put in place strict COVID-19 compliance norms; those found in non-compliance will be expelled out of the terminal or barred from boarding their flights. An airport official also said that a fine of Rs 250 has been stipulated for people not wearing their masks outside the terminal, as reported by TOI. Delhi and Hyderabad have reported satisfactory compliance with norms.