Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) this week extended the mask-wearing requirement at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to include all passengers as well as employees, as airports begin to prepare for what they hope is the return of normal passenger activity once the COVID-19 outbreak begins to ebb.
The LAWA move is similar to actions taken around the country as airports move into a recovery phase with hopes of instilling confidence in the traveling public.
The LAWA rule, which expands from just employees to all persons beginning Monday, May 11, notes face coverings can include scarves, bandanas, t-shirts, towels or other fabric held in place by rubber bands or other fasteners.
Federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at LAX are also recommending passengers wash their hands directly before and after completing the security screening process, and the airport says many airlines have already begun or will be implementing policies requiring face coverings on airplanes.
Similar to airline policies, guests at LAX are allowed to remove their masks for a short time in order to consume food or beverages but must put their masks back on when they are finished eating.
San Diego International Airport (SAN) is also requiring face masks per the state health and safety code. As stated by the County of San Diego Health Officer, persons with a medical or mental health condition, or developmental disability that prevents wearing a face covering shall be exempt from this requirement.
SAN has also placed red tape markings on floors at security checkpoints, airline ticket counters, and concession areas to adhere to six-foot social distancing rules.
“SAN’s top priority is the health and safety of all airport users,” said Kim Becker, president and CEO of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority. “We’ve taken many steps to help curb the spread of COVID-19 and appreciate all airport users adhering to the local and state health orders.”
In accordance with Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock’s recent public health order, Denver International Airport (DEN) this week also began requiring all visitors and passengers to wear face coverings.
“The health and safety of our passengers and employees is our number one priority, and it is going to take all of us to slow the spread of COVID-19,” said DEN CEO Kim Day. “As we prepare for people to return to travel, we continue to focus on the health and safety of our passengers and will implement additional safety measures, as necessary.”
The airport says the TSA is installing plexiglass shields at screening podiums to allow for distance between officers and passengers and the same will be installed at other areas where there is public interaction, adding that some airport restaurants are focusing on carry out options and others have spread out seating to accommodate for social distance. “But this situation remains fluid. As we prepare for people to return to travel, we continue to focus on the health and safety of our passengers and will implement additional safety measures, as necessary.”
Both George Bush Intercontinental (IAH) and Hobby (HOU) airports have been encouraging all persons 10 and older to wear face covering since late April in accordance with local country orders, Houston Airports System said.
Orlando International Airport (MCO) said it is taking measures to prepare for the resumption of normal commercial activity, which is anticipated in the coming weeks as state and local officials finalize plans to fully reopen the state.
“For the last several months, we have taken action for safe and clean facilities to best protect the traveling public and employees from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Phil Brown, CEO of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. “Now, we focus on rebuilding confidence for passengers that we’re doing what we can to maintain a safe environment.”
MCO has installed signage around the main terminal building to encourage the safe practice of social distancing and orange cones will be used as visual markers to separate parties by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended six feet of space. Social distancing markers will be strategically placed at security checkpoints and near ticket counters and acrylic protective screens are being installed at ticket counters and at retail and food outlets.
“The path to recovery for Orlando International is largely dependent upon solutions by the health care industry and the local community and tourism attractions working together to support the return of guests looking to come to the country’s most-visited destination,” MCO said in a release.
San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is continuing to open up the modern Harvey Milk Terminal 1 as it announced American Airlines will move into the terminal next week, a move was originally planned to occur in late March.
Next week American will debut new ticket counter space and a baggage claim area in the terminal that will be adjacent to Southwest Airlines and JetBlue. American Airlines has also completed construction of a new Admirals Club lounge but will postpone the opening of this facility due to COVID-19.