The owner of Manchester, Stansted and East Midlands airports has issued new guidance asking passengers to wear gloves and face coverings when departing from or arriving into its airports.

The group said that limited temperature screening trials will also take place at its airports over the next few weeks, but added that “during this trial phase, this will be to test equipment and results will not be communicated to passengers or used to decide whether a passenger can travel”.

Earlier this week Heathrow airport announced plans to trial health screening technologies, including technology which uses camera detection systems capable of monitoring the temperatures of people moving through the airport.

MAG said that the new gloves and face mask guidelines, which take effect from today, are “designed to demonstrate one way in which air travel can be made safe as passenger numbers start to grow again in the future”.

The group said its airports would be the first in the UK to ask its passengers to wear face coverings (which can consist either of masks or clothing).

MAG said that passengers are being encouraged to bring gloves and face coverings with them to the airports, but added that “in the early stages of the pilot, for those arriving without, the airport will provide gloves and masks that can be worn throughout passengers’ time in the airport”.

The group said that “The move by MAG is designed to ensure that the small number of passengers currently making essential journeys through its airports feel safer and more confident about flying, as well as providing a further level of protection to colleagues working at the airport”.

“At present, with few flights and passengers at the airport, social distancing is practiced in MAG’s airports and the new guidelines will not change that,” MAG said.

“However, in the future, face coverings and gloves may form an important part of operating a busier airport terminal safely. The pilot scheme will therefore provide valuable feedback and set a path towards a new minimum standard for safe international travel.”

Alongside the new passenger guidelines and temperature screening trials, all MAG colleagues will also wear gloves and face masks, while staff working for airport partners will be “encouraged to”.

Finally the group says it is “considering asking all passengers to make a health declaration in order to enter its airports and will give passengers sufficient notice of any such trials”.

Commenting on the news Charlie Cornish, Group CEO, MAG, said:

“It’s clear that social distancing will not work on any form of public transport. But we’re confident that when the time is right, people will be able to travel safely.

“MAG has been working with the rest of the airport industry on a new safety framework for travel. We now need to work urgently with Government to agree how we operate in the future. This has to be a top priority so that people can be confident about flying, and to get tourism and travel going again.

“At MAG we’ve taken expert medical advice on how people can travel safely, and we’re pleased to be piloting these new measures at our airports for those passengers who do still need to travel. We expect to be able to agree a new framework by the end of May that will support a restart of the industry as soon as possible.”