Arlington, VA
Press Release

Beyer Urges Stricter COVID-19 Protocols at U.S. Airports

Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) today wrote to Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf urging the adoption of stricter measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at American airports.

Beyer wrote:

“Consistent, continued reports from constituents reveal the failure of U.S. airports to adopt basic mitigation protocols, such as enforcing social distancing, implementing temperature checks for travelers, providing guidance on how to self-quarantine for exiting travelers, and protective equipment for staff. These simple steps can help contain the spread of this virus in America as well as internationally, save countless lives, and alleviate the strain on our nation’s overworked health care system in the weeks to come.

“DHS must take and enforce the necessary precautions to protect travelers, airport staff, and airline staff. This pandemic will continue for some time, but air travel is and will continue to be necessary for the economy. In order to ensure the success of our ability to combat this virus, we must have the effective and enforced protocols in place now.”

Beyer’s Northern Virginia district includes Washington National Airport and he represents workers at Dulles Airport, which has seen chaos amid health screenings of passengers and subsequently at least one TSA employee test positive for COVID-19.

The Honorable Chad F. Wolf
Acting Secretary
Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
Washington, DC 20528

Dear Acting Secretary Wolf:

I am concerned about the operational safety of our airports. Until there is a vaccine, and while our airports remain operational, it is imperative that DHS take every step possible to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Consistent, continued reports from constituents reveal the failure of U.S. airports to adopt basic mitigation protocols, such as enforcing social distancing, implementing temperature checks for travelers, providing guidance on how to self-quarantine for exiting travelers, and protective equipment for staff. These simple steps can help contain the spread of this virus in America as well as internationally, save countless lives, and alleviate the strain on our nation’s overworked health care system in the weeks to come.

While air travel has slowed to a trickle during the crisis, effective and consistent protocols will be necessary for the return of the airline industry and the flying public. Quite simply, DHS must take and enforce the necessary precautions to protect travelers, airport staff, and airline staff. This pandemic will continue for some time, but air travel is and will continue to be necessary for the economy. In order to ensure the success of our ability to combat this virus, we must have the effective and enforced protocols in place now.

Given that, please indicate what steps DHS is taking to enforce social distancing at airports and what efforts are being employed to keep travelers, airline staff, and airport staff safe. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

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