India makes contact-tracing app mandatory for passengers as domestic flights resume

The Indian government has made its Aarogya Setu COVID-19 tracing app mandatory for all air passengers on domestic flights.

The nation yesterday announced domestic flights will resume after a two-month plague-pause with passengers subject to new guidelines [PDF] that include use of the app.

The guidelines start at home with the requirement to follow social distancing and hygiene practices all the way to the airport. Once checked in - online with self-applied bag tags for the sole piece of permitted baggage - passengers will be required to certify their health status by showing their e-pass on Aarogya Setu.

E-passes are issued by local authorities and categorise people into green, orange, or red health statuses depending on their risk of exposure. Once the pass is obtained, it will appear on the Aarogya Setu app and serve as a pass that allows users to access certain facilities.

Green status indicates that the user is low risk and can use public transport and visit public places. Orange status indicates that the user should avoid gatherings, maintain physical distance from others, and only travel for essential reasons. Those who have red status are strongly advised to self-quarantine and will not be allowed to board flights. Passengers who are not Aarogya Setu users will be taken to a counter where the app can be installed. Those who do not have a compatible phone will be asked to sign a self-declaration form, which certifies that they are not from a containment zone, under quarantine, or suffering from any COVID-19 symptoms.

Passengers will also be required to wear face masks, and have their temperature checked at the gate before boarding and on arrival. On board, passengers are advised to avoid any non-essential movement in the aisles, including queuing for the toilet, and no food or newspapers will be provided during the flight.

Only about a third of flights will resume on Monday. The government intends to increase activity in phases, according to the Civil Aviation Minister, Hardeep Sing Puri. "After domestic travel has been eased, we can then, depending on the evolving situation, address the issue of international travel," he told The Indian Express.

Aarogya Setu has been downloaded over 110m times as of today. Earlier this month, the Ministry of Home Affairs made the app mandatory for all government and private employees. Passengers on India's railways, which resumed limited services on 12 May, are also required also download the app. ®

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