Travelers who fly to and from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport will see changes, including signage encouraging – but not requiring – travelers to wear face masks.
This is part of the Metropolitan Airports Commission's (MAC) Travel Confidently health and safety program it initiated amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Working with guidance from health agencies and best practices in the industry, we have adopted a comprehensive program to help keep travelers and airport employees healthy,” MAC Chief Executive Officer Brian Ryks said in a news release.
Increased safety measures
The Travel Confidently program includes health and safety measures that are adopted across the airport in partnership with airlines, concessions, federal agencies and others, the release said.
Among the measures: increased cleaning, overnight disinfectant fogging in public spaces, social distancing controls for employees, the installation of floor decals and signage to remind travelers to stay six feet apart, face-covering requirements for employees in public areas, installing roughly 50 hand sanitizer stations throughout the terminals, shield guards at counters, and encouraging travelers to pre-book parking.
The airport will not require travelers to wear face coverings, although some airlines – including MSP's largest carrier, Delta – do require travelers to wear them on flights. MSP is strongly encouraging travelers to wear masks inside the airport, especially in public places.
Travel expected to increase in July
These health and safety measures come as MSP Airport expects travel to increase in July.
“We’re expecting an increase in traffic in July. Whether our passengers return to the skies next month or later in the year, they will experience a very different airport in terms of health safety elements in place to protect them," Ryks said.
MAC says more than a dozen domestic destinations will be added back to the MSP schedule in July, with average daily aircraft departures increasing to 233, up from 138 in June.
The average daily departure in July 2019 was 554, the release said.
Is air travel safe?
Travel of any kind increases your chances of getting and spreading COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website says. However, health experts don't know if one type of travel is safer than others.
That being said, the CDC has said that places like airports, bus stations, train stations and rest stops are places where people can be exposed to the virus in the air and on surfaces – especially because they can be harder to social distance – and then potentially spread the virus to others.
With air travel, the CDC says you need to spend time in security lines and airport terminals, which can bring you in close contact with others. But on the actual airplane, there is some good news.
"Most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes," the CDC's website states.
However, on the airplane itself, travelers may be within six feet of others on crowded flights for hours at a time, which "may increase" the risk for exposure to the coronavirus.
Plus, before booking your vacation, the CDC reminds people to consider if there is an outbreak of COVID-19 where you're going (you could catch it while traveling) and whether the local government requires travelers to quarantine upon their arrival.
Safety tips while traveling
If you do travel, the CDC has these recommendations to protect yourself:
- Wash your hands frequently
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Avoid close contact with others (keep six feet of distance between you and others)
- Wear a cloth face covering in public
- cover your coughs and sneezes
- Pick up food at drive-throughs, curbside restaurant service or stores