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The TSA releases new airport security guidelines as passengers begin to travel again

Passenger travel numbers have steadily been increasing in the last weeks

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Transportation Security Administration
Transportation Security Administration
(Joe Raedle / Getty Images)
Updated: May 21, 2020 - 10:20am

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

As Memorial Day weekend approaches – and with it the start of the summer travel season, the Transportation Safety Administration has released new security-screening guidelines to reduce the potential for the spread of the coronavirus.

“In the interest of TSA frontline workers and traveler health, TSA is committed to making prudent changes to our screening process to limit physical contact and increase physical distance as much as possible,” said agency Administrator David Pekoske.

Though traveler numbers are barely one-tenth of what they were one year ago on the same date, the TSA has charted a steady increase of airline travelers in the past few weeks and is rolling out coronavirus era precautions that will be employed in airports across the nation.

The TSA says travelers should expect a series of changes to the security process. Including:

Implementing social distancing guidelines by “increasing the distance between individuals as they enter the security checkpoint.”

TSA officers will now use facial protection and travelers are encouraged, though evidently not required, to wear masks as well. Though the guidelines warn that passengers may need to adjust masks during security screenings.

Individual airlines have announced their own specific rules about whether passengers must wear masks.

Passengers will keep their boarding passes, as opposed to handing them over to a TSA officer for inspection. Travelers will hold up the pass (paper or electronic) so that the officer may inspect it visually but not physically handle it.

The TSA is encouraging passengers to take extra care not to pack any prohibited items “such as liquids, gels or aerosols in quantities greater than  3.4 ounces.” However, the TSA is now allowing one liquid hand sanitizer container, up to 12 ounces per passenger, to be packed in carry-on bags – though the bottles must be removed from a carry-on bag prior to screening.

Passengers are also being asked to separate food items from carry-ons for the security process. According to the TSA’s press release, “food items often trigger an alarm during the screening process; separating the food from the carry-on bag lessens the likelihood that a TSA officer will need to open the carry-on bag and remove the food items for a closer inspection.”

Additionally, officers will now change pairs of gloves following each passenger pat-down.

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