WASHINGTON - The Transportation Security Administration has introduced some key changes at airport screening checkpoints as it anticipates an increase in travel over the Fourth of July weekend and throughout the summer.
Passengers are now allowed to bring one liquid hand sanitizer in a container up to 12 ounces in carry-on bags, which they will need to remove from bags before screening. All other liquids, gels and aerosols are limited to 3.4 ounces or less.
Social distancing among travelers is also being enforced in the checkpoint line. All TSA officers are required to wear masks and gloves, and plastic shielding has been installed at various locations.
The agency has also implemented ID verification without physical contact between the TSA officer and the traveler. Those with an expired driver's license or state-issued ID on or after March 1, 2020 may still use it for up to a year. It is extending the REAL ID enforcement deadline by a year as well, to Oct. 1, 2021.
Ahead of the holiday weekend, the TSA will be opening as many checkpoint lanes as possible and aims to have all non-pre check passengers though security in 10 minutes or less.
A sign reminding passengers to stay 6 feet apart is seen at a screening checkpoint at Orlando International Airport. (Photo by Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
The changes are part of the TSA’s “Stay Healthy. Stay Secure.” campaign, which it “continues to evaluate additional safety measures in close coordination with federal partners.”
On a call with reporters Tuesday, the TSA head said the federal government hasn’t yet made a decision on temperature checks for passengers.
“No decision has been made,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said, according to CNBC. “I know in talking to our medical professionals and talking to the Centers for Disease Control is that temperature checks are not a guarantee that passengers who don’t have an elevated temperature also don’t have Covid-19.”
On April 14, the TSA recorded the lowest travel volume in its history at approximately 87,500. While the agency said it anticipates an increase in passenger volume in the months ahead, it will remain “well below” the 2.5 million travelers it screened each day, on average, in years prior.
The U.S. has recently experienced a resurgence of confirmed COVID-19 cases across the South and West, leading the world by far with 2.6 million people infected nationwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. But the number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest that people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
As more customers return to air travel amid the ongoing pandemic, the aviation industry is grappling with how to ensure flyers feel safe.
All leading U.S. airlines now require passengers to wear masks. Some airlines like Alaska, Delta, JetBlue and Southwest are blocking middle seats or limiting capacity, while American, United and Spirit are booking flights to full capacity when they can.
For air travel, and all other types of transportation, the CDC recommends washing hands, maintaining social distancing and wearing face coverings.
This story was reported from Cincinnati. The Associated Press contributed.