TAMPA — The emerging era of air travel is all about minimizing the need for anyone to touch your stuff.
So with travel expected to nudge up over the Memorial Day weekend, Tampa International Airport and the U.S. Transportation Security Administration on Friday advised fliers to adopt some new habits to minimize the spread of the COVID-19 virus at security checkpoints:
• Put belts, wallets, keys, phones and similar items in your carry-on bags instead of into the bins at the security screening stations to reduce touch points. Electronics larger than a mobile phone still must be placed in a bin.
• Hold on to your boarding pass. Security officers will have travelers put it onto the reader, then hold it up so the screeners can inspect it without touching it.
• If you’re wearing a face mask — something now required by major airlines at Tampa International — expect that you might have to adjust it during screening.
• Put carry-on food in a clear plastic bag and place the bag into a bin. Not putting the food in a carry-on will reduce the officers’ need to open the bag and touch your belongings.
The security changes come on top of clear plastic shields, hand sanitizing stations and blocked-off seating to create social distance that the airport has introduced since the start of the pandemic, which has reduced travel through Tampa International by 97 percent.
In early April, the number of passengers going through the airport had fallen from a springtime high of 80,000 travelers a day to just 1,500 per day.
But the numbers are inching up and this week got into the 8,000 to 9,000 range, airport spokeswoman Emily Nipps said. Over the holiday weekend, the airport expects that daily passenger numbers could hit 10,000.
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