The screeners at airports’ TSA security checkpoints don’t have a stellar reputation. On the whole, they tend to be unfriendly and more than a little bossy. Of course, every once in a while you’ll come across a TSA worker who’s a joy, like this one, or who did something super nice, like what this one did for me. But the overall appearance? Yeah, they’re crabby, irritable and more than a little bit authoritarian. Of course, there seems to be a good reason for that, but it still doesn’t make anyone feel any better when they’re yelling at some 85-year-old because they forgot to take their belt off.
Well, I’ll tell you – the whole COVID thing has not been good for TSA security. According to the TSA, over 6,400 TSA employees have tested positive for COVID and 14 have died as of this writing. Things have been better since that whole whistleblower situation over the summer, but some airports are only NOW getting enhanced protection such as acrylic shields at their respective checkpoints.
For a long time, TSA officers really couldn’t even enforce passengers wearing masks. They could ask them to, and if the locality had a mask mandate, there might be enforcement that way. But under the administration of former president Trump, federal entities were not given any power of enforcement. With that, there were no mandates and rarely any consequences for not wearing a mask at the TSA checkpoint.
That’s all changed.
President Biden made COVID safety one of the first things on his agenda and he recently signed an executive order on, “…Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel by requiring travelers to wear face masks when they are in airports, bus and rail stations, as well as while on passenger aircraft, public transportation, passenger railroads, and over-the-road buses operating on scheduled fixed-routes.”
As a federal agency, the TSA will, of course, follow those orders. With that, effective February 2, 2021, TSA requires individuals to wear a mask at TSA airport screening checkpoints and throughout the commercial and public transportation systems.
Said Darby LaJoye, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the TSA Administrator”
TSA will fully comply with the President’s Executive Orders, CDC guidance and the DHS National Emergency determination to ensure healthy and secure travel across all transportation sectors. This will help prevent further spread of COVID-19 and encourage a unified government response. As we continue to experience impacts from this pandemic, we are committed to this measure as the right thing to do for the TSA workforce, for our industry stakeholders and for passengers.
With a federal mandate in place, there can be consequences. As per the TSA’s press release:
“Whether beginning the security screening process at the airport Travel Document Checker (TDC) or submitting checked baggage for screening, all passengers who appear to be over the age of 2 must properly wear a face mask throughout the security screening process. The officer at the TDC will request that travelers temporarily lower the mask to verify their identity. Those who approach the TDC without a mask will be asked to wear or obtain one to proceed. Passengers who refuse to wear a mask will not be permitted to enter the airport’s secure area, which includes the terminal and gate area. Depending on the circumstance, those who refuse to wear a mask may be subject to a civil penalty for attempting to circumvent screening requirements, interfering with screening personnel, or a combination of those offenses.”
So yeah…I know that most people were already going through the TSA checkpoint with masks on (albeit some begrudgingly) anyway. But for those who chose to give the officers problems because of reasons, there are now consequences to their actions.
Feature Photo: TSA.gov
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#stayhealthy #staysafe #washyourhands #wearamask
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary