New COVID-19 requirement will go into effect Saturday
A requirement for passengers, employees and visitors to wear face coverings over their nose and mouth while at Tucson International Airport (TUS) will go into effect Saturday, June 6. The order by Tucson Airport Authority President and CEO Danette Bewley is being issued as more passengers are returning to flying and to clarify possible confusion about the use of face coverings in the airport.
“Our TAA team members have been forward thinking and working diligently on additional precautions to provide the safest environment possible for the benefit of everyone who uses the airport,” Bewley said. “This order provides additional assurance to our community that the health and well-being is a top priority, especially as we move forward in our recovery efforts.”
The order, issued under the TAA’s airport rules and regulations, will be in effect until further notice and applies to all TUS public facilities, including the airport’s main passenger terminal, the C gates building, the Rental Car Center and TAA parking facilities, including the shuttles and exit booth lanes.
After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidance in early April that recommended the use of face coverings when social distancing was difficult to maintain, the TAA required employees wear them, and also posted signs in the terminal that advised passengers to wear them, too.
“The airport has been proactive about airport messaging and signage, and we appreciate everyone who has taken the necessary safety measures and precautions to help stem the spread of COVID-19,” Bewley said, adding that the TAA has been contemplating a more aggressive position on the face covering requirement, and with a steady increase in passenger volume, it made sense to initiate this added measure now. “We are sensitive to the concerns of travelers and decided the best course of action is to require everyone wear a face covering in the airport’s public facilities.”
Since mid-May TUS has recorded a steady increase in passengers, according to passenger numbers provided by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
Bruce Goetz, TAA Vice President of Operations/COO, notes that the TUS numbers are outpacing the national average.
“Monday, TUS set a record with 1,379 departing passengers,” Goetz said. “While that’s not great, it was our highest number since March 22 and was almost 28 percent of the number of passengers we served on the same day a year ago. It was also 9.7 percent higher than the national average.”
It is not necessary for the face coverings to be commercially made, but the expectation is that individuals entering the terminal will bring and wear their own face covering. The Pima County Health Department offers some recommendations for some easy-to-make face coverings https://webcms.pima.gov/cms/One.aspx?portalId=169&pageId=563362.
As part of the TAA order, it is understood that face coverings do not need to be worn in these circumstances:
- By any child who is younger than two years old.
- By an individual who requires assistance wearing and removing a face covering, including those who are incapacitated or have a physical disability.
- By a child 12 years old or younger who cannot be assisted putting on or removing the face covering by a parent or guardian.
- By an individual who is hearing impaired or assisting a hearing impaired person using facial and mouth movements for communication.
- During the limited time when an individual is consuming food or beverages.
- By an individual who has a recommendation from a physician that they not wear a face covering due to a medical condition.
- At the request of a TSA officer verifying a person’s identity for security purposes.
This latest action is part of TAA’s commitment to evaluate health and safety protocols in response to COVID-19, and make adjustments that are in the best interest of safety. In addition to the new order, improvements to the TAA health and safety measures are spotlighted in the TUS Cares campaign, which include:
- Acrylic shields have been installed at airline and car rental check-in counters, at the gate areas and other points of transactions.
- Floor signage with safe distancing messages are located at queue areas and around the baggage carousels.
- Seat signage about social distancing is installed on all seating at TUS, including gate waiting areas, ticketing level and airport parking shuttles.
- General signage with Centers of Disease Control messaging has been installed throughout the terminal complex.
- Additional instant hand sanitizer dispensers have been installed throughout the terminal.
- Traditional drinking fountains have been taken out of service. However, we have water filling stations with paper cup dispensers, to allow our guests to access water.
To read the full Executive Order, please click here.