May 21 (UPI) -- The Transportation Security Administration announced new guidelines Thursday to limit the amount of contact passengers must have with screeners as more people return to the skies during the coronavirus pandemic.
The changes to the security screening process comes as airlines traditionally expect an uptick in travel starting with Memorial Day weekend and moving into the summer vacation months. Air travel has seen a dramatic decline amid the COVID-19 crisis, but as more states loosen their stay-at-home orders, domestic flights could pick up, an analyst told Barron's.
"In the interest of TSA frontline workers and traveler health, TSA is committed to making prudent changes to our screening processes to limit physical contact and increase physical distance as much as possible," TSA Administrator David Pekoske said.
"We continue to evaluate our security measures with an eye towards making smart, timely decisions benefiting health and safety, as well as the traveler experience."
As part of the changes, TSA is asking passengers to:
-- Scan their boarding passes themselves and hold them up for a TSA officer to review without handing them to the officer.
-- Place carry-on food items in separate, clear bags because food items tend to trigger an alarm on the X-ray belt, which will lead to an officer having to handle the carry-on bag.
-- Ensure they have no prohibited items to reduce the likelihood of a TSA officer needing to search a carry-on bag.
-- Practice social distancing during the screening process.
-- Wear face coverings.
Airlines have also implemented their own security measures to limit the spread of coronavirus in the gate area and on flights, including requiring passengers to wear face coverings.