SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The Transportation Security Administration announcing changes to their security procedures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lucas Welsh is a firefighter from Columbus, Ohio. He was flying out of SRQ today and he says he’s happy that the TSA is making some changes.
“I mean if they are doing extra things to protect us, that’s awesome," said Welsh. “If we can prevent more people from contracting this virus it’s a lot better.”
TSA says passengers will now be allowed to carry a 12 ounce liquid, people will not hand over their boarding pass but scan it themselves, carry on food will be screened separately and social distancing will take place at all their checkpoints. Passengers are also urged to wear a mask.
“I think it’s a combined effort," said Mark Stuckey, Executive Vice President of the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport. "The airport authority, the TSA and the airlines are all working together to make sure it’s as safe as possible for travelers to get through the airport and to their destination.”
SRQ has also stepped up what they are doing. They are requiring that their workers wear face masks, they’ve installed plastic shields at counters, have social distancing markers throughout the airport, as well as hand sanitizing stations.
“We are following standard best practices that all airports are using and we’ve doubled our cleaning staff," said Stuckey. "So we have a lot of cleaning staff cleaning all the touch points throughout the terminal.”
Here are some frequently asked questions, right from the TSA website:
Can I wear a mask to a checkpoint?
Yes, travelers are allowed to wear masks, but a TSA officer may ask the traveler to adjust the mask during the security screening process.
Can I request that TSA officers use new gloves and swabs during screening?
TSA always requires that frontline personnel wear nitrile gloves when conducting screening duties, and travelers may request for new gloves to be used during the screening process. TSA has also directed officers to use fresh explosive detection swabs for each passenger when testing for explosive material during this crisis.
Does TSA require its employees who came in contact with an infected employee to self-quarantine? Or is that optional?
Yes, TSA directs employees who come in close contact with another employee diagnosed with COVID-19 to isolate or quarantine as appropriate.
My state motor vehicles office is closed during the pandemic, so I can’t get a REAL ID by October 1. What should I do?
The Department of Homeland Security has extended the deadline for REAL ID enforcement by 12 months. The new deadline is October 1, 2021.
My driver’s license has expired during the pandemic and my state motor vehicles office is closed. Will I still be able to fly?
Yes. If your driver's license or state-issued ID expired on or after March 1, 2020, and you are unable to renew at your state driver’s license agency, you may still use it as acceptable identification at the checkpoint. TSA will accept expired driver’s licenses or state-issued IDs for a year after expiration.
Can I still enroll in or renew my PreCheck™ membership during the pandemic?
Yes, however due to the evolving public health situation and circumstances, some TSA Precheck enrollment centers may close for a period of time to ensure the safety, health and wellness of staff and the public. Applicants planning to visit an enrollment center should use the “Find an Enrollment Center” feature at the bottom of the enrollment services home page (https://universalenroll.dhs.gov/locator) to determine if the center is open, its hours of operation, and if appointments are required.
If there are changes to PreCheck™ enrollment appointments, will TSA reach out to customers in advance?
Yes, customers with canceled appointments are notified and given the opportunity to book at another open location. The ability to book appointments at alternate locations is dependent on overall site availability in a particular region.
If you are planning to visit an enrollment center, please use the “Find an Enrollment Center” feature at the bottom of the Home page (https://universalenroll.dhs.gov/locator) to determine if the center is open and its hours of operation. TSA strongly recommends you make an appointment, and not “walk-in” to an enrollment center. This will ensure you receive a notification if your appointment is canceled, and will allow the center to manage/limit the number of people arriving at one time.
Where can I find the passenger statistics that show a decrease in passengers that I have seen in the news?
The national passenger volume numbers are available here. TSA has seen a significant decrease in the number of passengers coming through security checkpoints since the beginning of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.