NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, (KNWA/KFTA) — Air travel is on the rise, in fact, TSA reported its busiest weekend at airports nationwide since the pandemic began on Sunday, June 13. It screened over 2.1 million people at U.S. airports that day.
Now requirements for face masks have eased across the state for those who’ve received the COVID-19 vaccine but that guidance has not changed for air travel.
Before you step foot into the Northwest Arkansas National Airport (XNA), you need to have your mask on. You will see signs at the entrance and around the airport as a reminder. This goes for all airports across the U.S..
That’s because of a federal mask mandate that is in place and being enforced by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The agency requires a face covering on public transportation including airports and airplanes.
There are some circumstances where it is okay to remove your mask.
“For example, if your eating or drinking on the plane or at the airport it is okay to pull your mask down… but if you are just sitting there or walking around you will be required to wear a mask,” said AAA Motor Club, Public Affairs Specialist,” Nick Chabarria.
You will be asked to bring your mask down to verify your identity through the security screening. There are also exceptions to the mandate for children under two years old and those with certain disabilities.
Violators can face a $250-dollar fine for their first offence, the penalty is higher for repeat offenders.
The federal mandate is in effect until September 13.
Whether you are traveling across the U.S. or taking a trip out of the country, it is important to know the COVID-19 requirements of where you are going.
According to the CDC, if you travel within the United States you won’t need a negative test result before or after your trip.
However, if traveling internationally depending on your final destination you may need to provide them a negative COVID-19 test. You certainly will need one to board an international flight back to the U.S.
“Whether you are vaccinated or unvaccinated, if you are returning to the U.S., you are required to show proof of a negative COVID test of the previous three days or a COVID-19 recovery within the last three months… Something to know for international travelers,” said Chabarria.
He reccommends checking the requirements close to your trip as guidances are constantly being updated.
Other safety measures to take; pack hands wipes, hand sanitizer, and try to avoid touching too many surfaces.
Is there a quarantine guideline for fully vaccinated travelers? Fully vaccinated people do not need to quarantine after international or domestic travel. Health experts say although the risk is low, if they do develop symptoms then they should isolate and get tested for COVID-19.