LONDON (Reuters) - Britain published new guidance for airlines and airports on how to operate safely to minimise the risks from coronavirus, adding to hopes that the country will soon agree deals to allow quarantine-free travel.
Passengers and staff should wear face coverings in airports and on aircraft, while passengers should check in all luggage including hand bags and remain seated for as much of the flight as possible, said the Department for Transport on Thursday.
Since the outbreak of coronavirus, there has been minimal flying into and out of Britain. Airlines had been hoping for a recovery in July, but they say new UK rules requiring international arrivals to quarantine for 14-days have pushed this back.
Britain has said work is continuing on “air bridges” between countries with low infection rates, something which the industry says is vital to kickstart travel demand and avoid further job losses on top of the tens of thousands already announced.
The new aviation guidance shows the government is preparing for a restart.
“We are taking the necessary steps to ensure a framework is in place for the aviation industry to bounce back when it is safe for restrictions on travel to be lifted,” said transport minister Grant Shapps in a statement.
Many airlines including easyJet, Ryanair and British Airways have already said that customers must wear face coverings onboard.
The guidance to put most baggage in the hold could be problematic for some low-cost airlines such as Ryanair which formerly charged a premium for customers to keep larger bags with them in the cabin.
The government also said in its guidance that there should be extensive cleaning of the aircraft, and more availability of handwashing and hand sanitiser facilities.
Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Michael Holden