Plane travellers urged to check in handbags and not walk around aircraft in new coronavirus advice

New advice for people travelling by plane includes checking in all baggage and wearing masks in airports and on flights. (Getty Images)

Air passengers are being urged to check in handbags and not walk around planes in new advice from the government aimed at reducing the spread of coronavirus.

The guidance, published by the government’s International Aviation Taskforce, includes advice for passengers on how to socially distance at different stages of their journey.

It includes wearing face coverings in airports and on board aircraft, washing hands regularly after touching any surfaces, checking in online and checking in all baggage including hand luggage, as well as staying seated as much as possible during the flight.

The document, produced by government, aviation industry and public health experts, includes guidance for operators like extensive cleaning of aircraft, increasing the availability of hand-washing and hand sanitiser facilities, reducing face-to-face interactions with passengers, and introducing protocols for how to deal with passengers or staff who show COVID-19 symptoms.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “Today’s guidance is a positive next step towards ensuring a safer and more sustainable aviation sector.

“The government’s advice currently remains to avoid all non-essential travel, but today we are taking the necessary steps to ensure a framework is in place for the aviation industry to bounce back when it is safe for restrictions on travel to be lifted.”

The UK’s aviation industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus crisis, with the airline industry predicted to lose £253bn this year.

A further blow hit the industry when the government announced a 14-day quarantine for anyone who lands on British soil.

Tim Hawkins, chief strategy officer at Manchester Airports Group, said: “This new guidance provides the basis for the restart and recovery of the UK aviation industry – it offers clear information for us, our passengers and our airlines on the steps needed to create a safe travel experience.

“The guidance is the result of strong collaboration between government and the aviation industry, drawing on advice from independent medical and scientific experts who have looked specifically at what safety measures are needed at each stage of the travel process.

“With similar protocols being adopted in other countries, and a targeted approach to reopening travel to low-risk countries, we will have the elements in place to get our economy moving again and protect jobs throughout the whole aviation supply chain.”

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