Civil Aviation Authority issues COVID-19 guidelines ahead of airports’ reopening

Last Updated on Monday, 20 July 2020, 15:24 by Denis Chabrol

As Guyana moves closer to reopening its international airports following months of lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) earlier Monday issued a raft of safety and public health guidelines for all airport and aircraft operators, as well as passengers ahead of that reopening.

The Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri and the Eugene F. Correia International Airport at Ogle are tentatively scheduled to reopen on August 28, 2020.

These Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are to provide safe and effective measures for a healthy aviation environment and to prevent the continuous spread of the coronavirus, and to clearly outline the roles and responsibilities for a wide range of airport agencies and stakeholders, the authority said.

In recognising its role in ensuring the availability, continuity and sustainability of air transport services both during and after COVID-19 pandemic, the GCAA said it will also coordinate and facilitate the implementation of health and non-health measures to protect the airport environment and health of travelers, staff and the general public.

The GCAA plans to implement stage 2 of the reopening of the country’s airports on August 1.  However, the COVID-19 National Task Force has advised the GCAA against this, recommending instead that all international airports be reopened until August month-end.

Below are the SOPs as contained in the document issued to stakeholders in the travel industry:

Airport Operators
Airport Operators are responsible for ensuring that the airport environment including all public and restricted areas of the terminal and ancillary facilities are kept safe and hygienic through appropriate measures and practices to safeguard against the spread of COVID-19 and any other communicable diseases.

In collaboration with the airlines, Airport Operators are required to schedule flights in such a way that there will be no over-crowding of the airport’s facilities.

All staff at the airport are to be sensitized on the prevention and spread of the COVID-19 virus, and briefed by the Airport Operator when updates or new guidelines are issued by GCAA or the Ministry of Public Health.

Airport Operators must ensure that all staff are equipped with appropriate personal protective equipment and hand sanitizers, disinfectants and cleaning agents.

The document also outlines procedures to be observed for check-in areas, security checkpoints, signage, seating, and cleaning the airports.

Aircraft Operators
Aircraft Operators are similarly responsible for ensuring that their operations are conducted safely through the implementation of safe health and hygiene measures.

Operators are responsible for ensuring that each passenger, prior to entering the airport terminal to check in for flights, is wearing a face mask and be subjected to a temperature check.

Passengers’ hand luggage and checked baggage are to be sanitized prior to entering the check-in area and they must be briefed on any special or specific travel restrictions or requirements.

Passengers will be allowed to remove their masks for a short period for identification purposes and for eating or drinking, or for taking medication.

Children below the age of two who are travelling with parent(s) or guardian(s) may be exempted from wearing a face mask on board the aircraft, except when medically recommended.

The document also outlines procedures for operation on the airside, transporting of human remains, flight crew and dealing with passengers on board who show COVID-19 symptoms.

All passengers travelling to Guyana are required to obtain a PCR COVID-19 test taken within seven (7) days prior to travel, and present the negative test result to the airline at check-in, then to health officials upon arrival in Guyana.

Children below twelve (12) years travelling with parents or other authorized adults are not required to present negative molecular biological PCR test once the accompanying adult is recorded as COVID-19 negative.

Passengers will be required to wear face masks, observe the health and safety requirements in the airport and onboard the aircraft, and subject themselves to temperature tests and other evaluations if deemed necessary by health officials. They also must not behave in a manner that interferes with crew members or their functions.

(Samuel Sukhnandan)