TSA has had its struggles with employees catching the coronavirus. In fact, over 500 TSA employees have tested positive for the virus and a handful have lost their lives. As a result of these challenges, TSA has recently implemented new policies to help make the airport screening process a little safer.
These include policies like:
- Enforcing social distancing between passengers and its employees wherever they can.
- Recommending for travelers to wash their hands both before and after the security screening process.
- Allowing passengers to request for a TSA agent to wear a fresh pair of gloves when inspecting you and your luggage and also for them to use a fresh swab when checking for explosives.
- Allowing passengers to wear face coverings when going through security (an agent may request for you to temporarily remove the covering so that they can verify your identity).
The latest policy that they will be rolling out with is a requirement for all employees to wear masks, as “an additional measure to help minimize spread of COVID-19 and help raise the overall health and safety level inside the airport environment.”
The timing of this requirement is a little odd since TSA was just accused of secretly hoarding over 1 million N95 masks. (It’s not clear what type of masks will be issued to employees but I think they will be given surgical masks.)
TSA says that protective eye equipment for employees will be optional and they are also recommending for passengers to wear masks as they make their way through screening.
Many airlines including American, United, Delta, Southwest, Alaska, Frontier, JetBlue, and Spirit, have announced plans to make face masks/coverings mandatory for all passengers. But some airlines like Southwest feel that the TSA should incorporate temperature screening.
Temperature screening would be helpful to turn away symptomatic passengers but given the high asymptomatic rate of coronavirus there still would be a lot of people carrying the virus to get through without detection.
If you’ve ever flown through Asian airports, you’ve probably seen and had to go through temperature scans so they can be easily implemented (at least in other countries).
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.