Extremely ill-advised to reopen airports in red zones: Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh

A day before domestic flights services are set to resume, Maharashtra’s Home Minister Anil Maharashtra has opposed reopening of airports in red zones in view of the coronavirus pandemic.

Extremely ill-advised to reopen airports in red zones: Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh

MUMBAI: A day before domestic flights services are set to resume, Maharashtra’s Home Minister Anil Maharashtra has opposed reopening of airports in red zones in view of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a series of tweets, Deshmukh said, "It's extremely ill-advised to reopen airports in the red zone..." 

It’s extremely ill-advised to reopen airports in red zone. Mere thermal scanning of passengers inadequate w/o swabs. Impossible to have autos/cabs/buses ply in current circumstances. Adding positive passenger will add Covid stress to red zone.

In another tweet, he said, ''Getting passengers to come from a green zone to a red one putting them to risk of exposure doesn't make sense. Keeping a busy airport up & running with all COVID-19 safety measures will need huge staff presence and compound risk in the red zone.''

Maharashtra, which is the worst coronavirus-hit state, has not yet amended its May 19 lockdown order which allowed only special flights. Under the present circumstances, the state does not look too keen on accepting an influx of people.

Tamil Nadu, with the second-highest number of cases, has also expressed similar concerns and urged the Civil Aviation Ministry to delay the plans till May 31.

Importantly, Deshmukh’s comments came a day after Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri asserted that India will resume domestic flight services as part of the Centre's gradual reboot of air travel that was halted two months ago on account of a lockdown imposed to stop the spread of the COVID-19. 

Puri said, ''There's no contradiction between domestic flights beginning from May 25 and lockdown in India being imposed till May 31.''

The Minister also said that the Centre is planning to bring back Indian citizens from Sri Lanka either by ship or flights. Discussions are at an advanced stage, the Aviation Minister said. He also recommended ''Aarogya Setu app for everyone'' saying, ''it's an excellent contact-tracing device."

Puri further asserted that India will try to start a good percentage of international flights before August, if not the entire civil aviation.

According to the announcement, the first domestic flight will take off from Terminal 3 of Delhi airport around 4.30 early morning. In the first phase, 28 domestic flights will take off from Delhi for various destinations across the country.

The air travellers have been advised to carry their boarding passes along with them. It has also been made mandatory for the air travellers to upload the Aarogya Setu App in the mobile phones failing which they will have to sign an undertaking that they are free from Coronavirus infection.