The Italian Ministry of Health has decided that passengers flying into Italy should not be allowed to place any luggage in the overhead lockers. This decision was notified to all airlines by the Italian National Civil Transport Authority (ENAC). And it was reported in La Repubblica, an Italian national newspaper yesterday.
Italy Bans the Use of Overhead Lockers on Planes
A proclamation issued by ENAC to all airlines states that passengers can only take on board luggage that is small enough to fit under the seat in front of them. The use of the overhead lockers has been banned for health reasons during the coronavirus pandemic.
There is no mention of any exceptions. For example, passengers carrying sensitive equipment for work purposes such as laptops and cameras. These may be damaged if consigned to the hold. Will they come under the general exemption as ‘necessary for work’? An optimistic reference is made to possible charges that may be imposed for placing extra luggage in the hold. It states “Skyteam, the alliance of airlines including Alitalia, for now does not foresee any additional costs.”
Enforcement and Effectiveness of a Ban on Overhead Lockers
This is not a new idea. Earlier this month British airline passengers were being encouraged to avoid taking hand luggage on board. The Department for Transport “strongly” encouraged passengers to check bags into the hold and minimise hand luggage to speed up boarding and disembarking and reduce the risk of virus transmission. Ryanair, Europe’s biggest airline, claims it is safer for passengers to carry hand luggage on board. Checking a bag into the hold adds an extra step to the process and means more people handling the luggage. It also involves a wait in the luggage reclaim area, a further opportunity for the transmission of the virus. However, this is advice and not legislation, it will be a matter for the airlines whether the recommendation is enforced or not.
Temperature checks are not a requirement for passengers leaving the UK. But the Italians have now clarified their regulations – temperatures must be measured before a passenger boards a plane.
Temperature Checks for Passengers Travelling to Italy
Italian regulations require a temperature check just before passengers go on board the plane. A passenger who has a temperature above 37.5 is not allowed to travel. Passengers must certify that they have not had close contact with anyone suffering from COVID=19 in the last two days. They also undertake to report any symptoms occurring within 8 days of disembarking from the aircraft.
There is no indication, as yet, how airlines are reacting to this proclamation. There is no doubt this type of regulation is preferable to the imposition of quarantine.