With shelter in place orders being lifted in many states across the US, many people are anxious to resume traveling and see something other than the inside of their own homes. Despite being exhausted with the social distancing restrictions due to the pandemic, safety measures are vital in ensuring the reduced spread of infection. In anticipation of increased air travel, TSA has released new guidelines for passengers to follow when going through the airport.
To limit the physical contact between travelers and TSA Agents, people will now be required to assist with certain activities during the initial screening process. This will require travelers to scan their own boarding passes and remove any restricted items from their luggage that may trigger alarm sensors. Additionally, carry-on food items must be kept separate and stored in clear plastic bags. Items like keys, cell phones, and wallets should now be stored in carry-on bags to reduce touch point exposure.
TSA released a statement with regard to its new policies, “In the interest of TSA frontline workers and traveler health, TSA is committed to making prudent changes to our screening processes to limit physical contact and increase physical distance as much as possible.” According to reports, over 500 TSA staff tested positive for COVID-19. TSA agents are required to wear protective face coverings, which remains recommended for travelers, although not mandatory.
Chad Wolf, the current Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, stated that the department is exploring all measures “to see what we can do to provide some layer of security.” Possible options include checking passengers through thermal screenings and temperature checks prior to boarding an aircraft.