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Zurich airport plans robot cleaners, mask dispensers as travel curbs ease

A person walks past closed Swiss Airlines check-in counters at Cointrin Airport during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Geneva, Switzerland, May 28, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

ZURICH (Reuters) – Travellers at Zurich’s airport will encounter robot cleaners, facemask vending machines and extra room to queue for boarding when flight operations resume in earnest as cornavirus curbs ease, officials said on Thursday.

Airlines such as Lufthansa units Swiss International and Edelweiss Air plan to ramp up service in the weeks ahead as borders start reopening next month.

They have been liaising with Flughafen Zuerich, ground services outfit Swissport and airport police on safety measures to comply with federal health authorities’ guidelines, the airport operator said here

The steps include more frequent cleaning of handrails and baggage carts, hundreds of hand sanitizers, and Plexiglas panels at all desks. Vending machines run by Selecta will dispense facemasks and sanitizer.

To help avoid crowds forming, overflow levels at security checkpoints will open, passport control will operate as many booths as possible, and queuing areas will be made more spacious to help ensure physical distancing.

Swiss International urges passengers to cover their noses and mouths on board flights. In addition to stepping up cabin cleaning, it will give passengers disinfectant wipes and suspend inflight services such as hot towels and duty-free sales.

But it does not plan to leave middle seats open.

“Commercially no airline can afford to leave 40% of seats on board empty. In addition, leaving the middle seat empty does not guarantee social distancing under the current rules,” Swiss Chief Operating Officer Thomas Frick told broadcaster SRF.

Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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