New TSA Protocols Seek to Ensure Health and Safety
Under the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) new “Stay Healthy. Stay Secure.” Campaign, screening procedures are being changed to allow for more social distancing and to limit physical contact while still maintaining needed security procedures during the summer travel season.
In mid-April, due to COVID-19, TSA recorded its lowest travel volume ever: approximately 87,500 travelers per day. Although TSA anticipates a higher volume of travelers during the summer, it does not expect anywhere close to its daily average of 2.5 million travelers screened in recent years. At the same time, more than 1,000 TSA employees, mostly screeners, have tested positive for COVID-19.
Changes to expect at airports nationwide include the following:
- Social distancing (six feet) among travelers in lines and among TSA officers
- ID verification without physical contact between the traveler and the TSA officer (g., asked to hold up ID or place it on the screening device)
- Plastic shielding in various locations
- Increased cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces including bins and screening equipment
- TSA officers will be wearing masks and gloves and, perhaps, face shields
- At the traveler’s request, TSA officers will use a new pair of gloves for a pat-down
- Travelers can bring up to 12 ounces per passenger of hand sanitizer in carry-on bags, but the sanitizer must be removed from the carry-on for screening
TSA recommends that travelers allow additional time to get through screening. Travelers also are advised to:
- Practice good hygiene by washing your hands before and after screening
- Wear a facemask during screening (although you may be asked to remove it for identification purposes)
- Remove belts and personal items from your pockets and place them in your carry-on before getting into the security queue
- After screening, move out of the screening area to “re-pack”
Because some airlines have specific rules, TSA recommends checking with your airline regarding any COVID-19 rules or guidance.
As to travel destinations, it is important to check with your airline, the Department of State, and the state or country to which you are travelling to determine whether there are travel advisories, travel restrictions, or quarantines in place. As of July 1, 2020, the European Union has reopened its members’ borders to select countries – but not to United States residents (although there are exemptions). The list will be reviewed bi-weekly and countries will be added or deleted based upon their handling of the epidemiological situation, containment measures, and reciprocity.