The Bombay High Court on Thursday sought clarification from the Expert Committee under the Chairmanship of the Secretary, Civil Aviation as to whether by a mere touch of a person carrying COVID-19 virus, the virus can be transmitted to the person so touched.
During the course hearing, the respondents including DGCA, other airlines and Union of India through Ministry of Civil Aviation had emphasised on the minutes of the meeting of the Expert Committee held on 26th May, 2020, under the Chairmanship of the Secretary, Civil Aviation, to review and further strengthen the public health related protocols of air travel.
Bombay High Court division bench comprised of Justice Surendra P. Tavade & Justice S.J. Kathawalla while hearing the Writ Petition has noted the following statements in the said Minutes of Meeting; –
Paragraph 12 which says that: “The physical distance between two persons helps in minimizing the transmission through an inadvertent touch”
Paragraph 14 : “It was also suggested that if the person sitting adjacent to another person is provided with a protective suit (like a gown covering the upper part of the body and gloves), this can also be very good means of preventing the spread of virus either by droplets or by touch.”
Paragraph 14: “The Committee felt that providing protective gowns to intervening passengers (passengers who are seated between two persons) would also minimise the risk of transmission through an inadvertent touch while in the aircraft or while boarding or alighting.”
Earlier, the Director General of Civil Aviation has issued directions for the Airlines in which it was mentioned that all passengers will be provided with safety kits by airlines, which will include three-layer surgical mask, face shield and adequate sanitizer (sachets/bottle).
Moreover, DGCA has highlighted that the airlines will allot the seats in such a manner that the middle seat between two passengers is kept vacant if the passenger load and seat capacity permits the same. However, it further added that the members of same family may be allowed to sit together.
Thereafter, it said that if middle seat/ seat between two passengers is occupied due to passenger load, then additional protective equipment like “wrap around gown” (Ministry of Textiles approved standards) will be provided to the individual occupying the intervening seat in addition to the three-layer face mask and face shield.
-India Legal Bureau