TSA Will Require Employees To Wear Face Masks

Filed Under: Security/TSA

I’m a bit confused as to how this wasn’t already a policy, but better late than never, I guess?

TSA agents will have to wear face masks

The Transportation Security Administration is now requiring that all employees wear facial protection while at screening checkpoints.

This new policy will be implemented nationwide over the coming days. It’s intended as an additional measure to help minimize spread of COVID-19 and raise the overall health and safety level inside the airport.

Wearing protective eyewear (as an added precaution) remains optional for TSA personnel who are serving in active screening positions.

Passengers, meanwhile, are encouraged to wear facial protection, though it’s not required across the board. Here in the US most airlines now have policies requiring passengers to wear masks, though this doesn’t necessarily extend to the security checkpoint.

How was this not already a requirement?

I’m puzzled by how this wasn’t already a requirement. Hundreds of TSA agents have tested positive for COVID-19. Not only are TSA agents at high risk of COVID-19, but they’re also putting passengers at risk, especially without taking precautions.

I’m not sure why this wasn’t required before:

  • Social distancing isn’t possible at TSA checkpoints
  • In situations where social distancing isn’t possible, face coverings are recommended by the CDC
  • JetBlue has been requiring employees to wear masks since April 19, 2020, which was a few weeks ago, so the TSA seems way behind here

Are TSA temperature checks next?

In an effort to add more layers of protection for passengers and employees, many have called on the TSA to add temperature checks at screening checkpoints. I imagine we’ll see more temperature checks at US airports in general (they’re very common in Asia, for example), and maybe we will indeed see this added to the TSA screening process.

While setting up temperature checks shouldn’t be that complicated, the big question is what they would do with sick passengers. If someone has a high temperature, will that passenger not be allowed to fly no matter what? Would the TSA tell the passenger to go to the airline ticket counter, or…?

Bottom line

It seems long overdue that TSA agents are required to wear face coverings, both for their safety, as well as for the safety of passengers. TSA checkpoints are high risk, between the surfaces, the lack of social distancing, and the general amount of traffic.

This is a step in the right direction, but hopefully we see even more.

Comments
  1. Wouldn’t this have been required and several places already such as JFK, LGA, SFO where masks were already required by state executive orders?

  2. @Lucky, you are a very skilled writer and I tremendously enjoy reading your articles but here is one thing that really bothers me. I know I’m being pedantic, but it seems every other article you write has a sentence which ends in “or… ?” It seems to me that this is a very lazy way to end your question when there are many better ways to actually finish your thought. I’ve been trying to ignore this for the past couple of years when it started appearing in your articles, but now I can’t help but voice my displeasure, lol.

  3. Given that airlines are now requiring passengers to wear masks, it would be nice to see them send out a couple of branded reusable cloth masks to their frequent flyers.

  4. @Lukas, I think it may just be a habit of being a German speaker as well as an English one. I’m not a native German speaker myself, but I know they end a lot of their questions naturally with “,or…?”. Ever since learning the language, I’ve been finding myself ending my sentences like that more and more!

    Maybe it’s still a bothersome read for some, but I think its a neat language crossover.

  5. This is normal in East Asia (before the pandemic)

    If this is “the new normal” then its ok with me

  6. @NSS think of it less as a binary thing and as a risk reduction thing. Maybe only a few percentage points in risk reduction, but that has an impact beyond no additional measures taken.

  7. My son works at DFW and life is good for the TSA staff. They get full pay and are currently working one week on and one week off. The week off is on call; however they never call any of them in. They even get there night time differential pay on the week off.

    All the airport staff are also getting to park in the terminal garages.


  8. They get full pay and are currently working one week on and one week off. The week off is on call; however they never call any of them in.

    It isn’t only the TSA that is doing this. I know certain parts of the DOD are doing the same thing. Don’t know how widespread it is but it does go beyond TSA.

  9. This is why we will have hundreds of thousands of dead In this country, as our policy is a complete opium for the masses. A major government agency implementing such a crucial policy weeks after the fact, when much of the rest of the world has taken concrete steps to reduce infection. I do business with folks from several foreign countries and they are calling concerned about my wellbeing. What an embarrassment – the greatest country in the world is now the world’s recipient of pity. Full of ignorant, head-in-the-sand, “I deserve absolute freedom even in a temporary crisis” nonsense over common sense and science. People should be in streets demanding logical strategies to minimise deaths and here we are in May after 1.3 million infections getting around to telling the TSA wear masks.

  10. @Amn: it is more than pity. It is a cross of amazement and anger the rest of the world has for the US. I am an expat living in a Spain and they are amazed at how ignorant many are (yes administration is at top of that list) but also angry that so little so late is being done to protect the world from more exposure after they have locked down so strongly. I am getting jokes thrown at me regularly by friends here. Embarrassed is an understatement. The Trump criticism/jokes were there before but now they sting.

  11. I am actually surprised that they are requiring them to wear masks at all. So many sick, a few dead or not, they DO NOT care about their workers. As for the author saying to test passengers temputures at the checkpoint just like the CEO of Southwest Airlines also wanting it, if the author and Southwests CEO wants it, I suggest talk to the director or TSA and the airlines because the workers will need TRAINED MEDICAL staff on site with test kits/thermometers to do this, also they will have to hire bodyguards for the TSA when people complain they are testing to begin with, and dont get me started if someone is denied from the screening checkpoint because of a “high” temputure. Also, TSA are supposedly essential because they are supposedly “Emergency Response Personal” but have NO medical training from TSA. Give it a rest people. Don’t fly if you do not have to.

  12. Its great to protect the TSA agents.

    And how about the passengers?

    I see South Korea disinfecting everything, and EVERYTHING, but in the USA and Europe I see this dull grey trays uncleaned and passenger after passenger putting their personal effects in, including SHOES in them. No cleaning, no disinfecting !

    The UK has a MASSIVE shutdown, but Heathrow had nothing, no checks, just line up as usual, 300 people at immigration, no spacing. Ridiculous you say. Yes I guess so.

    THINK…about it.

  13. I’m puzzled that some still believes a mask will protect you. Only a N95 mask will do that, and I can’t read anything here suggesting that this is what’s required.

    Its good news a TSA agent will not infect a customer, but unless 100% of workers and travellers in an airport wear a mask, at all times this will not stop the spread of the virus. It will be almost impossible for someone who’s not used to wearing a mask doing that for hours. Of course you cant eat or drink with a mask.

    Everyone should be tested daily who work at an airport. We should quickly develop a anti-body test that we can use as an “ID” while travelling – showing everybody that you’re safe

  14. @Ray while the US response was a complete embarrassment I’m not sure if Europeans have the right to say anything. Most of our infections come not from China but from Europe. Its more of a those in glass houses thing.

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