Ryanair passengers eager to enjoy their summer break in Pisa, central Italy, were forced to postpone their plans after a fellow passenger had to be dragged off the flight form ignoring coronavirus quarantine rules. Footage shared online by the wannabe holidaymakers showed three men in hazmat suits boarding the flight and questioning one of the passengers and his companion before they forced the pair off the plane. The man had reportedly received a message during his airport stay confirming he had tested positive for COVID-19 but had decided to leave for his holiday despite strict rules mandating he remain isolated for at least seven days.
Video from the incident shows concerned passengers observing the hazmat-clad officials talking to the man and his friends as an hostess tries to pacify the other travellers.
The pair was later forced to disembark and escorted to an isolation area inside Stansted Airport where they were met by health authorities.
Remaining holidaymakers had then to wait an hour and forty minutes to allow Ryanair staff to disinfect the seats and overhead luggage bins before being allowed to leave the UK.
In a statement following the incident, the airline said: “They were both wearing masks at all times at Stansted Airport and for a very short period (less than ten minutes) they were seated on the aircraft prior to departure.
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“There was little if any risk of coronavirus transmission to other passengers or crew members as all of whom were also wearing face masks at all times.”
One of the passengers later shared a picture of herself and friend wearing face masks on social media describing the accident.
The caption of the photo read: “The face when you’re about to take off and someone gets a text from track and trace.”
The pair said the police had boarded the plain and suggested a fellow passenger had tested positive to the coronavirus.
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Flight tracker website Flight Radar later showed the flight was allowed to leave for Pisa but it is unclear whether local authorities subjected the arriving passengers to precautionary measures.
Italy is not currently on the UK’s restricted travel areas but the former hotspot of the virus in Europe has been experiencing a resurgence of cases like many other countries.
Last week the Italian Government announced the closure of all night clubs for a period of at least three weeks and ordered the mandatory use of face masks between 6pm and 6am.
Local media has reported several clusters have originated from groups of young tourists returning from areas with high rates of infection in Sardinia, Greece and Croatia.
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According to the Fondazione Gimbe in Bologna, which has been monitoring the incidence of the cases, the number of infections across the Italian peninsula have nearly doubled in a week.
The UK has also experienced a resurgence of infections in some areas and has adopted a strategy of local lockdowns in the Greater Manchester and Lancashire regions over the past month.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Thursday the Government is planning to launch a new scheme in a bid to increase compliance with quarantine measure by offering those who need to isolate a small stiped for the duration of their forced stay home.
Speaking to the BBC, the Health Secretary said that if the scheme proved successful in the pilot areas of Oldham and Blackburn with Darwen and Pendle, the Government could consider an extension beyond lockdown areas.
Mr Hancock said: “This is where we’re doing it in the first instance, firstly to make sure that the systems work, that we can get the money fast to people, because obviously if you’re asking somebody to self-isolate for a fortnight we want to try to get the money to them at the start of that rather than afterwards.”
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