The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Saturday, March 13, issued a strict warning for passengers flouting COVID-19 safety norms on flights, saying passengers will be de-boarded if they don't wear masks inside the aircraft.
"If a passenger violates protocol despite repeated warnings then the passenger will be treated as an unruly passenger," the DGCA stated in a circular.
"Onboard the Aircraft, in case any passenger does not adhere to wearing of mask properly even after repeated warnings, he/she should be de-boarded, if need be, before departure," it added.
Highlighting the violation of COVID-19 norms at airports, the DGCA said, some passengers do not wear mask properly after entering the airport and also do not maintain social distance at airports.
The circular mentioned that the mask worn by passengers shall not be moved below the nose except under exceptional circumstances.
"In case, any passenger is not following COVID-19 protocol, they should be handed over to security agencies after proper warnings...if required, they may be dealt as per law," it said.
The circular from the DGCA comes on a day when India has recorded at least 24,882 fresh COVID-19 infections in the last 24 hours, the highest this year.
Raising similar concerns, the Delhi High Court, on March 9, had pulled up the DGCA when people travelling from Kolkata to Delhi on an Air India flight were not seen wearing masks nor following social distancing amid the ongoing pandemic.
The High Court had issued guidelines to all domestic airlines and DGCA ordering strict compliance, including penal action for offenders and frequent checks of the aircraft.
Justice C Harishankar had said, "Such a situation, in the present scenario, when the country is seeing a resurgence of COVID-19 cases after they had shown signs of ebbing, is completely unconscionable."
It is a matter of common knowledge that being within arm's length distance of a Covid carrier, even if he is asymptomatic and is merely speaking, is more than sufficient to transmit the virus, the court's order read.