EU Distancing in Air Travel Guide for Virus

European Union regulators called on passengers to wear face masks, observe physical distancing and frequently wash their hands in new guidelines for air travel in the age of Covid-19.

Significant changes will also be needed for airlines and airports, EU aviation and health agencies said in a statement Wednesday. Carriers and airport operators must ensure that passengers keep a distance of 1.5 meters (five feet) from each other when feasible. When that isn’t possible, extra measures such as hand washing and “respiratory etiquette” must be implemented.

The joint guidelines of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control represent an effort to map out rules for safe flying after a worldwide collapse in air travel because of the coronavirus pandemic. The protocol offers a blueprint from the time passengers arrive to catch a flight to when they leave the airport at their destination, said Patrick Ky, executive director of the aviation regulator.

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“This is the start, rather than the end, of a process to make air travel as safe as possible from the health perspective, in addition to the technical safety which has until now been the main focus of EASA,” Ky said in the statement.

Passengers must refrain from traveling if they have symptoms compatible with Covid-19 or if they have come into contact with people who have the virus, regulators said. In jetliner cabins, airlines must ensure physical distancing “to the extent possible,” according to the guidelines.