Cabinet after RIVM advice: full airplanes possible, mask required

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The House of Representatives had requested additional advice from RIVM this week because of the many questions about the health of air passengers.

1.5 meters

RIVM now writes that risks for passengers can be limited if a number of conditions are met. RIVM says that the distance of 1.5 meters should be maintained as much as possible. If that is not possible, ‘contacts between passengers and crew must be limited and, in accordance with the chosen policy in public transport, the wearing of a non-medical mouth cap can be considered’, RIVM advises.

The airlines themselves go a lot further: wearing a mask, for example, is mandatory on KLM flights from May 11, “because 1.5 meters in airplanes is very difficult”.

An international guideline even recommends wearing a medical mouth-cap from entry to exit.

Unique ventilation

According to the RIVM, the risks for air passengers are reduced by sufficient possibilities to determine whether passengers have corona complaints, for example with a health check before the flight. The ‘specific ventilation’ in the cabin of an aircraft would also reduce the risk of contamination.

In addition, RIVM points to the need for good source and contact research. According to the cabinet, the passenger lists of airlines provide sufficient options for this. The international playing field and regulations also play a role in the consideration of not taking additional measures. According to the sources, it is not useful to deviate very much from what other countries do.

To decide

At the beginning of this week, the House of Representatives demanded that the cabinet ask the experts of the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) as soon as possible for advice on the possible spread of the corona virus in aircraft. The House wants the cabinet to make a decision by June 15 on rules to keep sufficient distance in airplanes.

However, following the advice from RIVM, the Cabinet is not introducing additional measures for air passengers.

International agreements

The Cabinet has asked the OMT for numerous recommendations and has taken measures. The government did not do this before regarding the contamination risks in aircraft, RIVM director Jaap van Dissel said last week.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte then referred to international agreements that airlines have made themselves. “Airline companies will take their own measures to either maintain the 1.5 meter or to take additional measures in any other way and so you have to adhere strictly to that, is my advice.”

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