Good news for air travelers during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak: the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is officially allowing passengers to transport in their carry-on bags larger bottles of hand sanitizer than usual, amid other measures, in a bid to fight the virus.
On Sunday, the federal agency unveiled a new website dedicated to answering frequently asked questions related to standard airport security screenings during the pandemic. Notably, the TSA released a map identifying the airports where screening officers have tested positive for COVID-19 and disclosed that people can now pack liquid hand sanitizers – up to 12 ounces, instead of the typical 3.4-ounce size – in their carry-on bags.
However, cans of disinfectant spray are not allowed in either carry-on or checked bags, as prohibited by the TSA. All other liquids, gels and aerosols in carry-on bags must be at or under 3.4 ounces to pass through a checkpoint, too.
In addition, flyers who are using a state driver’s license that expired March 1, 2020, or later and cannot renew their license amid the ongoing outbreak, may use the old ID as acceptable identification at the checkpoint for the time being, according to the release.
“TSA will accept expired driver’s licenses a year after the expiration date, plus 60 days after the duration of the COVID-19 national emergency,” the statement said.
TSA Public Affairs spokesperson Lisa Farbstein further explained that hand sanitizer, tissues and hand wipes in individually wrapped packs, travel sizes and even jumbo containers are OK to pack in your carry-on during the coronavirus crisis.
Farbstein revealed that travelers can ask TSA agents to use a fresh pair of nitrile gloves during screenings – and clarified why people traveling with masks on might be asked to remove them for a moment during standard screening procedures.
“In case you are not aware, when you’re going through screening, you can ask the TSA officer to put on a fresh pair of gloves,” she said in a video shared to Twitter by the TSA on Friday.
“And if you come to a checkpoint and you’re wearing a mask, don’t be alarmed if the TSA officer asks you to pull it down just so that individual can get a good look at your face to make sure it matches your photo ID.”
Likewise, swabs used during the screening process – such as at a checkpoint and with checked baggage – will not be re-used on multiple passengers. The TSA has instructed agents to use a new swab on each person, the statement said.
To keep checkpoints clean, the TSA is also advising airport travelers to keep certain high-touch items like phones, wallets and keys out of security bins during standard screening procedures.
With the bins often used by hundreds of travelers passing through airport security checkpoints per hour, people should instead secure these personal items in carry-on items, to be screened via X-ray, a spokesperson for the TSA told Fox News last week.
Per guidance put forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), airport travelers should wash their hands before and after going through checkpoints.
Across the country, many airport authorities are doing extra cleanings of security checkpoints beyond the TSA’s guidance to conduct routine disinfecting of high-touch surfaces and security screening equipment, per the FAQ website. Security screeners are also urged to frequently wash hands and practice respiratory good hygiene.
Those seeking more information on how to avoid getting sick while traveling during the pandemic should look to the CDC for guidance, Farbstein said.
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