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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Departments of Homeland Security, Transportation, and Health and Human Services today issued joint guidance specifically for the air travel industry to better protect passengers, crew, and other airport workers from the COVID-19 pandemic during our economic recovery. This guidance, the “Runway to Recovery: The United States Framework for Airlines and Airports to Mitigate the Public Health Risks of Coronavirus,” lays out a framework for implementing public health measures in the aviation sector to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
“As we reopen the economy under President Trump’s Opening Up America Again guidelines, we are taking aggressive measures to protect the American people from COVID-19 as they reengage their travel plans,” said Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad F. Wolf. “Air travel is critical to our economic recovery and DHS has been working closely with our partners in the aviation industry throughout every step of our response to this pandemic to ensure that we are facilitating travel in a safe and secure manner.”
The guidelines call for public health measures to be implemented at each step in the air travel process, including before, during, and after the flight to minimize the chance for transmission of the virus. Some of the recommendations for airlines and airports include:
- Create barriers to disease transmission;
- Increase social distancing measures;
- Minimize points of contact with surfaces and people;
- Ensure cleanliness of all areas with potential for human contact;
- Know how passengers arriving on international flights can be reached if exposed to COVID 19; and
- Specialized training for aviation workers, especially airline crew.
The industry guidelines combine the expertise of three federal agencies, DHS, HHS, and DOT, each of which contributed specialized expertise on infectious diseases, public safety, and transportation operations into these guidelines. It is important to note that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has already implemented many of the guidelines being proposed for the airline industry through their “Stay Healthy. Stay Secure.” campaign. The U.S. Government will continually assess these measures, in close consultation with airlines and airports, as Americans begin to travel again.