DGCA makes mask compulsory on flights: Know what type to wear, for how long, and more

Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has made it compulsory for all passengers to wear masks at the airport and for the entire duration of the flight, failing which they will be treated as ‘unruly‘ and can be put on ‘no fly list’.

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“Airline shall ensure that all passengers are wearing face mask properly and continue to wear the mask throughout the journey. The face masks can be removed under exceptional circumstances and for permitted reasons only,” the statement from DGCA read.

If any passenger refuses to wear mask or violates Covid protocol even after repeated warnings, such a passenger will be treated as ‘unruly’ and asked to de-board before departure, DGCA mentioned in its latest directive in line with Delhi High Court order.

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The notification comes in the wake of rising Covid-19 cases in the country. On Wednesday, the daily positivity rate was recorded at 1.67 per cent while the weekly positivity rate was recorded at 1.12 per cent, according to the Health Ministry.

masks How long should you wear a mask? (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

Why are masks necessary?

Wearing a mask can safeguard you against Covid-19 and other fatal infections like pneumonia, said Dr Aniket Mule, consultant internal medicine, Wockhardt Hospitals Mira Road. “Adding more layers will only reduce the exposure to respiratory droplets, containing the virus, released from an infected individual who coughs in your space,” he explained.

Face masks help reduce the transmission of respiratory aerosols and droplets produced during activities such as talking, breathing, and coughing.

What is the ideal type of mask to wear inside flights?

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended a mask that is multi-layered, covers the nose and mouth, and forms a tight seal against the face.

Ideally, passengers should wear disposable surgical masks, valve-free respirator masks (N95), and cloth masks with tightly-woven fabric. Masks with slits or holes, scarves, bandanas, handkerchiefs, or masks with exhaust valves are strictly not recommended, Dr Mule asserted.

“If possible, practise double masking –surgical mask with a cloth one. Make sure the mask fully covers the mouth and the nose. Avoid masks made of lace fabric. Additionally, wear a face shield as Covid cases are rapidly increasing. But, do not just wear a face shield; masks are mandatory,” he added.

Is it safe to remove masks in closed spaces?

Do not remove the mask at any cost, said Dr Mule. “It is ideal to wear them throughout the journey, unless in circumstances when you are unable to breathe freely. Ensure your mask is of the right fit. If too tight, then adjust as per your convenience, or change it completely,” he added.

Experts further stress that even as vaccinations continue to be administered, the only way to fight the virus is by following all precautions and preventive measures. The best way to do that, apart from following handwashing and hygiene protocols, is wearing masks properly.

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