09 May, 2020

Masks and gloves are now needed by passengers at Manchester

Masks and gloves are now needed by passengers at Manchester Airport, either arriving or departing, the airport has confirmed this week.  

The move is, according to the airport, designed to demonstrate one way in which air travel can be made safe if passenger numbers start to grow in the near future.  The new guidance comes from the airport’s owner, Manchester Airports Group - MAG, as part of a wider pilot of measures aimed at working towards a new standard for safe international travel.

MAG is bringing in the same drastic demands at all three of its UK airports, Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands. The airports will encourage passengers to bring their own gloves and face coverings/masks to the airport,  although. in the early stages of the pilot, for those arriving without, the airport will provide gloves and masks that can be worn throughout passengers’ time in the airport.

All flights are currently operating from Terminal One at Manchester and dedicated stations are in place to provide gloves and masks in both arrivals and departure areas.

MAG says the requirement is designed to ensure passengers currently passing through its airports feel safer and more confident about flying.  Although, in practice, it may worry passengers further about using the airport's facilities. Some customers on social media have criticized the introduction of the new rules saying it is at least five weeks too late.  

In addition to the new guidelines for passengers, all staff serving passengers at Manchester Airport will wear gloves and face masks. The airports will also be conducting some limited temperature screening trials over the next few weeks using cameras. Initially, during this trial phase, this will be to test equipment and results will not be communicated to passengers or used to decide whether a passenger can travel, therefore passengers images will be collected without permission or knowledge. Which is something of a concern to civil liberty campaigners and they believe to be a breach of regulations.  

Charlie Cornish, Group CEO, MAG, said: "It’s clear that social distancing will not work on any form of public transport. But we’re confident that when the time is right, people will be able to travel safely. MAG has worked with the rest of the airport industry on a new safety framework for travel. We now need the Government to work urgently with us to agree how we operate in the future. This has to be a top priority so that people can be confident about flying, and to get tourism and travel going again.

At MAG, we’ve taken expert medical advice on how people can travel safely, and we’re pleased to be piloting these new measures at our airports for those passengers who do still need to travel. We expect to be able to agree a new framework by the end of May that will support a restart of the industry as soon as possible."

Brad Miller, Chief Operating Officer at Manchester Airport, said: “We will always put the safety of our colleagues and customers first. Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, we have been running our operations in line with guidance from Public Health England. What we are starting to pilot are measures that will help us understand how we work towards running a busier airport again in the future."

We can find no advice from Public Health England for passengers at airports to wear gloves, plus the requirement to wear mask/face coverings and gloves is in complete contrast to the advice by the World Health Organisation and may make already scarce personal protective equipment even harder to find, or more expensive, thereby endangering the lives of those on the heath front line, looking after far more vulnerable people ill with the virus. 

Will these measures help?  Will these requirements make travellers feel more secure or will it create more fear and worry that Manchester Airport is a rather unsafe and unsanitary place to be. 

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