The Transportation Security Administration is installing full-height plastic barriers at 37 airports nationwide to protect security screeners and passengers from the spread of coronavirus. The agency completed installing them at San Diego International Airport recently, and will install more than 1,200 by the time the project will be completed in early fall.
“As long as this virus remains a threat, TSA will continue to implement the measures necessary for containment, including acrylic barriers as well as technologies that reduce or eliminate physical contact,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske in a statement. The barriers are more substantial than the countertop shields that have been put in place at security checkpoints the past several months. They also supplement the use of gloves, face masks and disinfecting solutions.
The pandemic has changed the security screening process for both TSA agents and passengers. Travelers must wear face masks, must maintain appropriate social distance, scan their own boarding passes and place food items in clear plastic bags. They can also bring as much as 12 ounces of hand sanitizer through security checkpoints. Last month, TSA officers were required to change their gloves after every passenger pat-down or carry-on bag inspection. The agency also now requires officers to wear face shields or protective eyewear when working in close contact with passengers in areas where no plastic barrier is installed.
TSA developed the prototypes for the new barriers early in the pandemic at Reagan National Airport. Major airports in New York, Chicago, California, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Seattle, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Boston are among those that will receive the barriers. More than 1,700 TSA employees have tested positive for the coronavirus since February, and more than 1,400 have recovered, according to the agency. Six have died.