Congestion at the security checkpoint, travelers from red countries in the duty-free shops and people without face masks: trade union representatives and travelers are asking for more infection control at airports.
“I would like to see them take our concerns a little more seriously. Aviation depends on people feeling safe on the journey all the way. It may not help much to wear a face-mask on board the plane when no one was wearing it right before they went on board,” says Director Oddbjørn Ketil Holsether of the Pilot Association at Parat to NTB.
The Norwegian Pilots’ Association has repeatedly raised concerns about the lack of infection control at Norwegian airports with the authorities, most recently in a meeting with Avinor.
Among other things, they want a face-mask order in the arrival and departure halls, and increased cleaning.
“Although NIPH now recommends that people who come from red countries wear the face mask, they circulate through duty-free shops, passport controls and take luggage trolleys. To prevent surface infection, you should increase the cleaning,” he says.
Surprised by the rules
A recent overview from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) shows that infection has been detected on 32 flights in the last 14 days alone.
Holsether is particularly concerned about security checks.
“It is very crowded there, and many people go through in one day. A requirement for a face-mask, and possibly a visor for those who work there, also improves the safety of the employees,” he says.
He also calls for better cleaning of the boxes in which you put things when you go through the inspection.
“The rules in Norway are less strict than the recommendation from European aviation authorities. Many are surprised when they come from a strict infection control regime, for example in Copenhagen.”
Complaints to NIPH
At the beginning of the month, Flysmart24 wrote that several travelers have complained to Avinor about what they believe is a lack of infection control. In recent weeks, there has also been a number of notifications to NIPH from private individuals on the same theme, according to postal records.
One of them writes that he/she works at Gardermoen and reacts to travelers from red countries taking off their face-masks as soon as they get off the plane.
Furthermore, they wrote the following:
“Why can ‘travelers’ who come home from red countries stop by the duty-free shops and shop for snus, chocolate and try lots of perfumes? They should actually go straight home and into quarantine. This can’t possibly be a necessary errand? Have seen whole families of 6-7 people from red countries wander around the store for 30-40 minutes.”
– Such inquiries from private individuals are taken into account, and we include the input in our ongoing work with updating advice, writes Communications Consultant Erik Bull-Valen at NIPH an email to NTB.
Guldvog: – Understand the concern
Health Director Bjørn Guldvog says that he understands the concerns and points out that there is already a face-mask recommendation for people who come from red countries.
“The airport authorities and operators also have an important task in arranging so that people are not congested. And we completely agree with that,” says Guldvog.
He says that they have an ongoing dialogue about this.
The health authorities decide
Press Officer Nora Hoberg Prestaasen at Avinor writes the following in an email to NTB:
– The Norwegian health authorities recommend infection control measures, and the introduction of face-masks as a corona measure at Norwegian airports is not one of the recommended measures from the Norwegian Directorate of Health or NIPH.
She also writes that the cleaning is adapted to the current needs at all times, and that the focus is great on touch points in the terminals that are frequently used by passengers.
With regard to security control, she points out that the same infection control measures apply there as at the rest of the airports.
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today