Passengers, aircraft operators can be jailed, fined for breaching COVID-19 rules when airports reopen

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Passengers can be fined between $50,000 to $3M and jailed for five years if they breach the COVID-19 regulations stipulated by the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) when the airports reopen.

The GCAA on Monday issued a number of rigid public health guidelines and regulations to airlines, ground handlers and airport authorities ahead of the reopening of airports in August.

The all-encompassing regulations cited as “Healthy-Safety Measures and Practices at Airports and on Aircraft during a Public Health Pandemic” stipulates that all passengers are required to wear a mask at the airports and throughout their flights except for identification by law enforcement officials.

Passengers will be required to replace masks which have become wet or soiled and those who do not adhere to safety requirements will be refused access to the airport or aircraft or be removed therefrom.

According to the regulations seen by the News Room, passengers who do not comply will be fined $50,000; they will also be slapped with a $500,000 fine if they breach other rules.

Recommended masks when flying are N95, KN95 and FFP2.

“Any person or passenger who without reasonable excuse fails to comply or observe the health-safety requirements during flight, commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction of a fine of up to $500,000.”

Additionally, if a person acts out in a manner “endangers an aircraft or any person in an aircraft commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of G$3,000,000 and to imprisonment for five years.”

Official from the Ministry of Public Health, the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority and Immigration toured the Cheddi Jagan
International Airport (Ministry of Health Photo)

If a passenger interferes with the discharge of a crew member’s functions, that person is liable on summary conviction to a fine of G$1M and to imprisonment for two years.

A $1M fine is also attached threatening words at an airport or in an aircraft and disobeying orders from a pilot or crew member along with three-months imprisonment.

A system will remain in place where all passengers travelling to Guyana will be required to present a negative result from a PCR COVID-19 test seven days prior to travel except children under 12 years old accompanied by an adult who tested negative.

Passengers will be disinfected on the terminal and present their results along with their “Emergency Disease Screening Tool” forms which they will fill out onboard the aircraft.

According to the regulations, “passengers presenting or submitting a false or ‘non-factual’ molecular biological PCR test to the aircraft operator and to Port Health shall be liable to pay a fine of not more than G$250,000 upon summary conviction.”

Passengers’ temperatures will also be checked at the airport and anyone with a temperature above 37.5C (99.5F) or who appears ill or displays some symptoms of COVID-19 shall be further evaluated and possibly quarantined while contact tracing will be done to determine others who sat close to the person.

If someone is found to have COVID-19 symptoms onboard, the GCAA has stipulated for that person to be isolated in an area which is designated for this purpose before takeoff and taken care of by the crew onboard. Accompanying passengers may also be isolated.

“A crew member who had prior contact with the suspected passenger may be designated to provide in-flight service to the isolation area(s). The designated crew member shall use the PPE in the aircraft’s Universal Precaution Kit; and shall minimize close contact with other crew members and avoid unnecessary contact with other passengers,” the document stated.

One of the passengers being screened at the CJIA from a previous flight

This information should be relayed to air traffic control before arrival and the person shall be the last to disembark upon arrival.

After removal of the COVID-19 suspected case, aircraft operators are required to immediately clean and disinfect the aircraft before the flight is resumed or before the next flight. Failure to do so will result in a fine of not more than G$500,000 upon summary conviction for negligence and non-compliance.

“If the suspected case is confirmed positive, the respective crew member(s) should be placed in quarantine for 14 days from the last contact with the confirmed positive passenger, unless otherwise specified by the Ministry of Public Health. If the test is negative, they may resume flying duties,” according to the regulations.

No congregating will be allowed in the check-in area by passengers or persons travelling to retrieve them from the airport. Anyone in breach of this guideline will be liable to pay a fine of not more than G$50,000 upon summary conviction.

The regulation also deals with security checkpoint operation, installation of signage and appropriate seating, cleaning of the airport’s public areas, aircraft operators, immigration personnel, transporting of human remains, Flight Crew Procedures, Processing of Arriving Passengers, Border Control and sensitization.

All persons working at the airports are required to wear gloves, face masks and other necessary protective gears when dealing with passengers while there will be markers for social distancing and frequent cleaning of facilities.

The employees are also required to work expediently so that persons can get out of the building as fast as possible.

Meanwhile, flights will be scheduled so as to avoid overcrowding at the airports.

The order was signed by Director General of the GCAA Col. (ret’d) Egbert Field and made out under the Civil Aviation Act 2018.

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