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Riga Airport resumes flights in the conditions of increased epidemiological safety

The programme #ForbidTheVirusFromTravelling provides a set of measures for the protection of the Airport and Airport employees and the safe handling of passengers in order to minimize the risks of the spread of COVID-19.

With the introduction of a comprehensive epidemiological safety programme #ForbidTheVirusFromTravelling, Riga Airport will resume international passenger flights to Vilnius, Tallinn, Oslo and Frankfurt on Monday, 18 May. Four flights daily will be operated by the national airline airBaltic.  

The programme #ForbidTheVirusFromTravelling provides a set of measures for the protection of the Airport and Airport employees and the safe handling of passengers in order to minimize the risks of the spread of COVID-19. In developing the programme, the Airport has consulted with Latvian health authorities and taken into account the recommendations of international aviation organizations. 

“In order to contribute to the control of the disease and to take care of the safety of employees and passengers, together with airlines, cooperation partners and specialists, we have done extensive and thorough work to prepare Riga Airport for work in the conditions of the pandemic. Additional epidemiological safety measures have been introduced at the Airport for both passengers and employees; we have also adapted our infrastructure and improved the work organization process,” says Laila Odina, Chairperson of the Airport Board. “The effectiveness of these measures also depends on each of us – how responsibly and carefully we will meet the requirements. That is why I encourage us to travel ourselves, but we should not let the virus travel,” says the Chairperson of the Board of Riga Airport.

“I am very satisfied with the contribution of Riga Airport to creating a biosafety programme, which currently serves as a good example for other European countries working in the conditions of the pandemic. The programme is based on close cooperation between the Airport, airlines and public authorities, following the recommendations of international experts and good practices. It covers important aspects that should be taken into account in order to make passenger services and other Airport processes as epidemiologically safe as possible, while taking care of both passenger and aircraft service quality and aviation security,” says Raimonds Gruntins, Director Regional Affairs, Europe, International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Given that due to infrastructure and security procedures, it is not always possible to ensure sufficient distance at the Airport, an order of the Minister of Transport stipulates that all travellers, except children under the age of 7, must wear a medical mask when at the Airport. Entry to the Airport terminal is only allowed for passengers in masks, upon presentation of a boarding pass or booking confirmation. The Airport urges travellers to carefully observe the requirement to wear a mask during their stay at the Airport. The use of masks will be particularly controlled in places where it is difficult to maintain physical distance.

If passenger has arrived at the Airport without a mask, it will be possible to buy it at several places both at the entrance and in the terminal itself. 

To reduce the number of people present at the Airport at the same time, persons seeing off and meeting passengers will not be allowed to enter the Airport terminal. The Airport encourages persons seeing off and meeting passengers to go to the Airport only if passenger needs special assistance to get to the Airport.

Travellers are also urged to observe their hand hygiene at the Airport and, wherever possible, to observe physical distance. There are 25 hand disinfection machines available throughout the Airport terminal, including 20 non-contact ones. Disinfectants are also available at check-in desks and in boarding areas. There are special signs on the floors and chairs to remind travellers of the importance of keeping distance.

To ensure the safety of employees, the Airport's customer service workplaces are equipped with special safety glass. Airport employees are provided with personal protective equipment: face masks, face shields, disposable gloves according to the specifics of their work. Additional cleaning and disinfection measures are implemented in the passenger terminal using cleaning products in accordance with the recommendations of the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. 
When planning the aircraft placement and boarding sectors, the Airport will pay increased attention to minimizing passenger concentration and using buses as little as possible. However, if passengers have to be transported by bus, a maximum of 25 people will be transported in one vehicle.
The Airport urges passengers to get acquainted with the safety measures on the Airport's website before arriving at Riga Airport, as well as to carefully read the safety requirements of the selected airline. For example, the national airline airBaltic will not allow passengers with a body temperature above 37.8 degrees on board its aircraft. The temperature check will be performed before the security control. Two more temperature measuring devices will be installed in the Airport's arrival halls.

The Airport also encourages passengers to find out in advance what entry requirements and restrictions are in force in their country of destination.

Incoming passengers should bear in mind: if traveller has arrived in the Baltic countries from outside the Common Baltic Space, they are obliged to observe 14 days of self-isolation. Arriving passengers should also remember that it is mandatory to wear a face mask or other mouth and nose shield on public transport in Latvia.

Theodore Koumelis
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Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.