This time last year, all airports were shut and flights were grounded globally in view of COVID-19 pandemic. With airlines operating with strict curbs in place, fliers are seen flouting COVID protocols amid steady spike in the number of new cases in various states across the country. Several measures have been implemented to ensure safety of passengers in transit, failure of adherence to such norms makes it just as difficult for state and national authorities to contain the spread of the virus.

All Indian airports have been notified to strictly implement COVID protocols, but to what extent are they being followed is a whole another story. Aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) notified all airports last week to increase surveillance at airports and levy spot fines if fliers found violating COVID protocols. Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport started levying a fine of Rs 1,000 on passengers who flout mandatory safety norms such as wearing face masks, maintaining social distance at the airport.

Contemplating police action if fliers flout COVID protocols; Aviation Min tightens noose on airports

Even so, instances of fliers flouting COVID protocols haven't come to a halt. In response to a concern about asking Indian airports to go beyond order notifications to ensure passengers follow COVID protocols, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said an advisory has been issued to airports to strictly implement COVID protocol.

In addition, Puri said the ministry is contemplating police action if fliers repeatedly fail to co-operate with airport and airline staff on the lines of COVID appropriate behavior.

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri

"An advisory has been issued to airports to strictly implement COVID protocol. We also repeatedly request fliers to co-operate with airport & airlines staff; & are looking in the direction of police action. I am sure this tweet will be yet another reminder for compliance," Puri said in response to a tweet by Danish Manzoor, Editorial Director, International Business Times.


Coronavirus cases in India

India registered 1,03,558 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, the highest ever single-day spike since the onset of the pandemic last year, taking the total tally to 1,25,89,067 on Monday. Daily cases in India had peaked on September 16, 2020, with 97,894 people testing positive for the virus in a single day.

Monday's figure is the highest spike since the first case was detected in the country last January. Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Chandigarh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Haryana have been deemed states of "grave concern".