All U.S. airport security screeners must start wearing masks, the Transportation Security Administration is set to announce as soon as Thursday.
The move comes as a government and industry working group begins considering a broader requirement that everyone entering an airport, including all employees and passengers, must also cover their faces, two people familiar with the discussions said.
More than 500 TSA screeners have tested positive for Covid-19, including six who died, according to the agency’s website. The agency for months had left mask use voluntary.
The TSA didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on requiring its officers to wear masks while working.
Starting last week, most U.S. airlines beganphasing in requirements that passengers cover their faces, but the government has so far not mandated any such protections against the virus.
Airlines have begun pushing for some type of government requirement so that there’s a common standard across the industry, the people said. They asked not to be named while discussing internal discussions.
Such a requirement for masks would also cover the entire airport environment, not just planes.
The inter-agency group looking at new requirements will include theFederal Aviation Administration and TSA, as well as trade groups for airlines and airports, one person said.
Bloomberg News reported last week that airlines have been asking TSA to have its screeners, who are currently processing less than 10% of what had been the normal number of passengers, performhealth screens on passengers.
Reuters earlier reported TSA’s decision to require its screeners wear masks.
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