Auckland Airport is banning family reunions at arrivals as part of new measures to mitigate an increase in passenger numbers caused by the relaxing of coronavirus restrictions.
Australian Aviation can reveal that only those catching a flight will now be allowed into the terminal, with staff checking tickets at the door. The news means previously separated families will now face a slightly longer wait to be reunited.
The airport has also announced it has placed more than 1,000 yellow social distancing stickers on floors and seats as well as extra hand sanitisers and wipes.
The business expects a spike in passengers because, from midnight Wednesday (13 May), New Zealand restrictions will fall back to Alert Level 2, meaning residents are free to travel domestically and meet loved ones outside their normal homes.
General manager of operations Anna Cassels-Brown said, “While we’re really excited to be welcoming more travellers back into the domestic terminal we want to remind people that while we’re at Alert Level 2 it will be a very different experience from before the COVID-19 outbreak.”
Entrance to the terminal will be limited only to passengers who are due to travel on the day, and physical distancing will be encouraged via digital signposts, floor markings, and branded seat decals, to keep travellers distanced while they wait for their flights.
The airport has placed the vinyl stickers “everywhere” from the check-in desks to the bathrooms to remind passengers to leave space between themselves to comply with social distancing.
Hand sanitiser will be provided throughout the domestic terminal as well as disposable wipes next to the trolley stands, with passengers encouraged to use both.
While family and friends will not be permitted into the terminal if they do not have a valid ticket, individuals who require assistance to catch their flight will be permitted to bring one support person into the terminal.
And while many retailers have reopened in the precinct, Hudson’s is the only provider operating within the domestic terminal.
With these measures in place, Auckland Airport has encouraged passengers to leave additional time before their flight, as physical distancing and hygiene requirements could mean that the processes from check-in to boarding could take a little longer than normal.
The main message encouraged upon travellers in the airport is to “stay safe and leave space”, according to Cassels-Brown.
“The wellbeing of everyone working and travelling through our terminals is our top priority and we want everyone here to be as safe as possible. We are working hard to remind passengers about the importance of physical distancing to help everyone travel responsibly and with confidence,” Auckland Airport’s general manager of operations said.
“We already have a range of health and safety measures in place for the essential travel that was allowed under Alert Levels 3 and 4. These have now been expanded to take into account an expected increase in traveller numbers as travel restrictions reduce.”
Cassels-Brown noted that the behaviours of many have changed post COVID-19, and new behaviours at the airport will be no different.
“We’ve all become used to how different it is to go to the supermarket and are mindful of how much space to allow between ourselves and fellow shoppers, and we’re all careful about good hygiene. It’s going to be the same when you come to the airport.”
The move follows suit from some Australian airports who have also amended their procedures to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Earlier this week, Avalon airport announced that it would introduce a ‘touchless’ check-in and bag drop procedure, which will see passengers move through the airport to their departure gate without needing to touch a communal screen or place their passport on a surface.
Instead, passengers will be able to control an on-screen cursor by moving their head, and cameras will certify passports when they’re held up to a sensor, rather than physically inserted.