Agencies unveil COVID-19 air travel guidance

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Three government agencies recently issued health guidance to airlines and airports as a means of aiding the transportation system’s
COVID-19 recovery efforts.

Department of Transportation, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services officials said Runway to Recovery: The United States Framework for Airlines and Airports to Mitigate the Public Health Risks of Coronavirus – is designed to enhance passenger, crew and other airport worker protections amid the pandemic during the economic recovery.

“This document provides clear guidance to airlines and airports to protect the traveling public, and we encourage people to pay attention to it,” Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao said.

The guidelines address, among other initiatives, educating and communicating with passengers and employees; passengers wearing face coverings everywhere in the air transportation environment; promoting social distancing; enhancing disinfection and cleaning procedures; requiring health assessments from passengers and employees; and collecting passenger contact information to enable notification in the event of suspected or confirmed exposure to COVID-19.

“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,” Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad F. Wolf said. “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.”

Officials said the guidelines combine the expertise of the agencies, noting each contributed specialized expertise regarding infectious diseases, public safety, and transportation operations.