SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - We are now in Phase 3 of the Governor’s re-opening plan. As part of this, non-essential travel has started up again. This morning, Tampa International announced they will be the first airport in the country to offer pre-flight COVID-19 testing. The airport partnered with BayCare Health System to offer on-the-spot testing inside their main terminal. There will be both COVID and Antibody testing, and flyers can get their results in 15 minutes. However, each test costs about $125.
Here on the Suncoast, aside from masks and social distancing, the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport also has temperature checkers throughout all the terminals. Just like the COVID-19 testing that will begin at Tampa’s airport, this is available but not mandatory for all those flying in and out of the airport.
Airport leaders tell us these additional COVID-19 resources are really just to make people feel even safer, and make a conscious decision before boarding a flight. If in fact they are sick, they’ll know and won’t be putting anyone else in danger. At SRQ, there will continue being social distancing markers, sanitizing stations, sneeze-shields at counters and gates and everyone is required to wear a mask, but officials are not thinking about also adding COVID-19 testing here.
“While it’s a nice effort on Tampa’s part, we don’t anticipate having that here simply because there are plenty of options in the community. That test that you get that takes 15 minutes really is just an assurance for yourself. It’s not something that allows you to travel. It’s not qualified for that, so it doesn’t five you that travel assurance if you’re going to another country or another state that is quarantine, so it’s really not a big help in that sense,” explained Rick Piccolo, the President of the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport.
Piccolo also tells us that they’ve seen more than a 40% increase in booked flights since may. The airport is actually one of the only airports in Florida right now that has seen such a dramatic increase during this pandemic.
“In general, I felt very safe. I think they should continue doing all the safety precautions they have, certainly through the Fall, to see where the COVID-19 situation stands by then,” Fenner Brownell, a visitor from Oregon, tells ABC7.
SRQ officials tell us that is the plan.
“Everything will stay in place. I can’t imagine things changing, even when there is a vaccine, I could see the social distance markers being pulled off and maybe the sneeze shields, but all the sanitation stations and everything else, doesn’t hurt at all, and are probably could practices even when there isn’t a pandemic,” said Piccolo.