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Centre tweaks COVID guidelines for international flights; 'pat-down search' reintroduced

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New Delhi, Mar 26: The centre has announced several relaxations to the existing Covid-19 regulations at airports as India set to resume international passenger flight from Sunday.

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As per new rules, cabin crew members are no longer needed to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) kits and security personnel at airports can resume pat-down search of passengers, wherever needed.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), in its order, said that the restriction of keeping three seats vacant on international flights for handling medical emergencies related to COVID-19 stands removed.

"Airlines may carry a few additional PPE protective gears, sanitiser and N-95 masks, to handle any respiratory infections related to cases on air, for passengers as well as the crew," the MoCA noted.

The Centre has relaxed these rules to facilitate a "smooth conduct of air operations" as the number of coronavirus infections continue to dip along with high level of vaccinations, read a recent ministry order.

However, wearing of protective face masks and maintenance of hand hygiene/sanitiser is still mandatory at airports and on flights, the Centre said.

It said it had allowed full domestic flight operations from October 18, 2021, and has now decided to recommence scheduled international flight operations from March 27, 2022, "in view of the declining COVID-19 cases, high level of vaccinations and prevailing COVID-19 situation".

The pat-down search by security personnel at airports is reintroduced, wherever needed, as per directions of the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, the MoCA noted.

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