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TSA Has Made Some Major Changes to Its Rules Due to Coronavirus

By Tim Chester

May 28, 2020

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Larger volumes of hand sanitizer are now permitted on flights.

Photo by Joni Hanebutt / Shutterstock

Larger volumes of hand sanitizer are now permitted on flights.

You’re allowed more hand sanitizer. Be sure to pack it.

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For up-to-date information on traveling during the coronavirus outbreak, visit the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to alter travel significantly at home and abroad, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been making a number of changes to its security procedures.

Last week, the agency announced several changes to its screening processes “to limit physical contact and increase physical distance as much as possible” according to TSA administrator David Pekoske. Some of these changes are already in place; others will be in effect by mid-June.

Now, as travelers pass through airport checkpoints, they’ll be greeted by TSA agents in masks and gloves, will need to practice social distancing in lines, and will be encouraged to wear facial protection (but may have to remove it for screening).

Passengers will also hold onto their own boarding pass, whether paper or electronic, and just show it to the agent for inspection. They’ll have to separate food into a separate bag, to lessen the possibility of it triggering an alarm and necessitating a search from an agent.

Travel in the age of coronavirus: More changes around the airport

TSA also says fliers can expect to see officers in eye protection and clear plastic face shields in some airports, plastic shielding at document-checking podiums and other spots, and lots more cleaning and disinfecting. TSA agents will be changing gloves after each pat down.

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Back in March, TSA relaxed one of its main rules regarding carry-on liquids. The agency started allowing passengers to bring up to 12 ounces of hand sanitizer in their carry-on bags, up from the usual 3.4-ounce allowance. Other liquids, gels, and aerosols will still be limited to 3.4 ounces, or 100 milliliters, carried in a quart-size bag.

The ID rules also changed. Travelers can now use a state driver’s license that expired after March 1, 2020, if they haven’t been able to renew it at their local license agency. “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 site states.

The number of travelers screened by the TSA soared over the Memorial Day weekend, with 340,769 individuals logged on the Monday (May 25)—up from a historic low of 87,534 on April 14. More than 2.5 million people were screened on Memorial Day Monday in 2019.

As of May 28th, TSA says that 621 federal employees have tested positive for COVID-19 and 6 have died, in additional to 1 screening contractor.

TSA has a special site for all things coronavirus, and the CDC has more advice for traveling during the coronavirus pandemic.

This article was published on March 17, 2020; it was updated on May 28, 2020, to include new information.

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