Antigen test rule for domestic flyers put on holdAccording to the new rule issued on Thursday, passengers and cabin crew have to use double masks and tickets should be issued only to those with vaccination proof.
The government on Thursday exempt domestic flyers from the mandatory rapid antigen tests requirement.
The move follows the request from the domestic airline companies.
Last Friday, the Cabinet had issued orders that domestic airlines should do a mandatory antigen test of travellers and allow them to travel only if they test negative. The airline company will bear the cost of the antigen test, the decision said.
“The mandatory rapid antigen tests requirement to board the domestic flights has been put on hold,” said Deo Chandra Lal Karna, spokesperson for the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal.
The ministry, however, has issued double-masking orders while boarding the flight.
The ministry has also ordered airlines to issue tickets only for those passengers who have the Covid-19 vaccination card. The new rule will be enforced from Friday.
“We have issued a circular to all airlines regarding the exemption of antigen test and the new rule,” said Karna.
Domestic airlines had said the mandatory requirement of a rapid antigen test was a harsh rule.
Airline companies say testing flyers in remote airports is more difficult.
Officials at the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, the regulator, too, said the new rule was impractical.
It takes 20-25 minutes for an antigen test. If there are 72 passengers in a flight, it will require a lot of time and manpower too, according to an airline official.
The government has said that the airline company needs to bear the cost of the antigen test. The test kit for antigen alone costs around Rs500 to Rs700.
The government has also made it compulsory for people to produce proof of full vaccination to use public services from Friday. This also includes boarding domestic flights.
The government on Sunday implemented a slew of restrictions to prevent the spread of Covid-19 as the third wave has hit the country.
The airlines initially were against the mandatory requirement of vaccination cards as well.
But the Health Ministry said any exemption would be suicidal.
Nepal on Wednesday reported 12,338 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours.
On January 9, the Covid-19 Crisis Management Coordination Centre (CCMCC) decided to recommend mandatory vaccination cards to enter public places from January 21.
Public places, according to the Home Ministry, include offices, hotels, restaurants, cinema halls, stadiums, airports and parks, among others.