Russia’s biggest airline, Aeroflot has announced that it will designate a seating area for passengers who refuse to wear face coverings also known as mask, according to a new report by Reuters.
The new policy announced by the airline also applies to passengers who decline to keep their masks covered after boarding.
The airline announced that it will be tightening its COVID-19 protocols and will deny boarding to anybody who isn’t wearing a mask, regardless of the reason for not wearing it.
“Dedicated seats are allocated to passengers who declare their refusal to use masks after [the aircraft’s] doors close,” Aeroflot spokeswoman Yulia Spivakova told reporters, per the outlet.
Spivakova said that this was a common global practice and a necessary measure, adding that it does not preclude the airline from taking other actions against passengers who break its guidelines regarding personal protective equipment, according to Russian state news agency TASS.
According to another report by the Moscow Times, the maskless zone would be located in the last two rows of the righthand side of the plane.
The new policy also stated that travelers who can’t wear masks for medical reasons won’t be allowed to board under the stricter rules.
Aeroflot’s COVID-19 guidelines also stipulate that passengers must change out their masks every three hours, and after removing it to eat or drink.
The.new policy is in contrast toUS airlines who do not require masks for passengers above the age of two and do not set aside a maskless zone.
Russia stopped international flights amid the pandemic earlier this year but has now slowly resumed flights to select countries, including Japan, Cuba, Switzerland, and the United Arab Emirates.
As at press time, Russia has reported roughly 2.7 million COVID-19 infections and close to 48,000 deaths.