Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula announced the procedures to be implemented at South African airports for passengers flying during level 3 of lockdown. He spoke at a media briefing on Saturday.
Only passengers will be allowed inside the terminal buildings, and temperature screenings will be conducted at the terminal building entrances before any passenger is allowed entry. Masks are mandatory for passengers and airport personnel.
He said Airport Company South Africa (ACSA) will ensure the effectiveness of the sanitisation process before entering the terminal buildings, which may result in the number of entrances being reduced.
Once inside the airport, travellers will have to maintain a 1.5-metre distance, which will be clearly marked and applicable at check-in counters, security checkpoints and airport lounges.
All airline check-in agents will wear face shields, and the counters installed with protective screens. Check-in counters will be sanitised frequently.
Passengers are encouraged to use self-check-in to avoid queues at the airport. At boarding gates, boarding will be staggered and prioritised in terms of the number of passengers to board. Sectional boarding will be implemented to avoid unnecessary contact inside the aircraft.
Inside the cabin, full capacity will be allowed. Mbalula said the risk of Covid-19 infection onboard a commercial passenger airliner is lower than in many other confined spaces.
"All our commercial aircrafts are fitted with the High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters. These are manufactured to the same standard as those used in hospital operating theatres and industrial clean rooms, with the same efficacy of 99.97 percent in removing viruses.
"While the total air supply inside the cabin is essentially sterile and particle free, the biggest risk is if someone enters or remains in that environment, while unwell with a viral infection. This risk will be mitigated through the adoption of effective sanitisation and personal hygiene protocols," he said.
Passengers onboard an aircraft will not be served meals, there won't be magazines, and the last row will be reserved for isolation of suspected cases. All aircrafts will be disinfected before entering into service and after each flight.
Mbalula said loading capacity for all airport buses will be limited to 70 percent, and the busses disinfected after off-loading. Drivers, baggage handlers and ground handlers must be fully equipped with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
On arrival, all passengers must be screened as they enter the terminal building. Suspected cases must be referred to Port Health.