Legislation would establish temperature checks at airport checkpoints
Last week, Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, introduced the Fly Safe and Healthy Act of 2020.
The legislation aimed at preventing the spread among air travelers would include a pilot program to require temperature checks at TSA screenings. A Senate companion bill was introduced by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, and Sen. Rick Scott, R-Florida, in September.
“My own experience with COVID-19 underscores how easily this virus can spread, even when we take precautions. As our economy reopens, and as more Americans return to air travel, it is crucial to our public health that we work to make flying as safe as possible for the general public,” Rep. Carbajal said in a statement. “Temperature checks at airports are one way we can help curb the spread of COVID-19 at a time when cases are on the rise, and the pilot program puts travelers first by including built-in protections for consumers.”
Rep. Ralph Norman, R-South Carolina, added, “As we work to get our nation back on its feet, we must continue to identify ways to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Air travel poses unique challenges on this front, and it’s important to study and understand how TSA checkpoints might play a role in our fight against this and future pandemics. I want to thank Congressmen Carbajal, Budd, and Larson for their insight and co-sponsorship of this important bill.”
Rep. Ted Budd, R-North Carolina, said that ensuring the health of air travers could “boost passenger confidence” and lead to a jumpstart of economic activity.
“That’s how we can stop the spread of the virus and continue a great American comeback,” he said.
The legislation would require the TSA to establish a pilot program to test temperature screening technology within 30 days. The 120-day proposed pilot program would be conducted at TSA checkpoints. The TSA administrator would be required to protect travelers’ personal and medical privacy, exempt individuals who may have a fever unrelated to COVID-19, and accommodate individuals with disabilities or who observe certain religious practices.
In addition, the administrator would have the flexibility to test various technologies and would be required to ensure TSA officers are properly trained on how to use the technology and follow program procedures.
No later than 90 days after the pilot program concludes, TSA would be required to issue a policy to deploy the program more broadly at airports throughout the United States until the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency, officials said.
TSA would be permitted to partner with universities or academic institutions, national laboratories, public health authorities, or private entities to develop, evaluate, or improve technology for the purpose of detecting fevers or for conducting secondary screenings.
According to officials, the secretary of transportation would be required to issue a rule requiring airlines to notify passengers that they will be subject to temperature screening and to encourage passengers to not come to the airport if they have a fever.
To learn more about the legislation, including a list of frequently asked questions, visit https://www.cantwell.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Temp%20Check%20Q%20%20A%20(9.17.20)%20(002).pdf.