The novel coronavirus pandemic is the single biggest challenge to the travel industry in this generation. Many airlines around the world have canceled flight services, leading to the shutdown of airports. Mactan-Cebu International Airport
(MCIA) is one of the international airports that temporarily suspended its operations. But now, the facility is ramping up its preparations for when air travel is resumed.
GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation (GMCAC), the entity operating Mactan-Cebu International Airport
, started to follow the measures given by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of the Emerging Infectious Disease and the Department of Transportation. These are the following safety measures
in place within MCIA.
• Regular disinfection of the facility
Areas, surfaces, and items that are usually used by passengers like escalators, elevators, stairways, passenger boarding bridges, restrooms, baggage trolleys, security trays will be regularly sanitized by airport staff.
• Protective clear shields in check-in counters
All check-in counters in terminals will be installed with a protective clear shield as a barrier to protect both passengers and check-in agents.
• Medical isolation room for quarantine assessment
The Bureau of Quarantine will conduct quarantine assessment in isolated holding areas.
• Infographics about health and safety reminders in strategic locations
The facility will display health advisories and reminders in strategic locations to give passengers information on COVID-19. Announcements and reminders will be made every 30 minutes inside the airport terminals as well.
Authorities also understand that travelers will need to feel safe on the premises and confident that they can enter the borders smoothly. To give them peace of mind, stringent measures such as visible sanitizing, visual queues, and touchless travel check-ups will be the new normal in airports. As such, these are the protocols every passenger and airport staff of MCIA should follow:
• Mandatory use of face masks and PPE
Passengers and airport employees inside the airport premises are required to always wear face masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent the spread of the disease.
• Strict body temperature checks
Arriving and departing passengers will undergo a body temperature scan by airport security staff. Thermal imaging systems will be used by the Bureau of Quarantine for arriving passengers. Meanwhile, handheld thermal devices will be used for departing passengers.
• Hand sanitizing and shoe disinfection before entry
Individuals who will enter the airport must sanitize their hands and disinfect their shoes at all entry points. Sanitizer and shoe disinfection means will be provided.
• Physical distancing protocols
Visual queues are posted to guide people in MCIA’s terminals while waiting for their flight. Everyone in the airport is required to follow social distancing of three to six feet in queuing areas and a one-seat-apart policy in waiting zones. The security staff will also practice “no-touch” checks to refrain contact. Aircraft boarding and disembarkation procedures will be modified to avoid congestion in queues. When traversing walkways and lanes, people will also be reminded to always keep right. The number of well-wishers for departing passengers will be limited to one companion per passenger only.
Ultimately, people’s behavior in traveling will be challenged and changed. Traveling will not be the same again, but with safety measures like the ones in place in MCIA, transitioning to the ‘new normal’ in air travel will hopefully be as safe.