Airport Module - Security Screening


During the initial stages of the pandemic response, we can expect the need for physical distancing measures to be maintained at security screening checkpoints, including during the screening process. Measures to control access to the security screening checkpoint may need to be considered, as well as possible modifications to standard screening in order to comply with new COVID-19 sanitary guidelines.
Consideration should be given to exempting security screening staff from carrying out health and safety related screening to ensure they remain focused on security screening and related processes. ​


Checkpoint access procedures

  • If health screening is required by applicable regulations prior to the checkpoint, non-contact thermometers should be used in a designated area, under conditions which minimize the impact on operations.
  • Appropriate procedures should be implemented in coordination with relevant government departments in order to respond to any passengers who show signs of illness.
  • Provide hand sanitizers and disinfection products prior to passengers and staff screening access points where possible.
  • Screeners and passengers should maintain physical distancing to the extent possible or wear the appropriate PPE to mitigate the risk of exposure.
  • Rearranging of security checkpoint access and layouts should be considered with the objective of reducing queues and crowding to the extent possible while maintaining desirable throughput. This should include both divestment areas and those areas where passengers retrieve their screened cabin baggage.
  • Markings should be established on the ground within the queueing area to indicate the proper distancing recommended by the appropriate authorities. Physical distancing should remain in place until informed by relevant health authorities that it is safe to relax them.
  • Procedures involving passengers presenting boarding passes and other travel documents to security personnel should be done, to the extent possible, while avoiding physical contact and in a way that minimizes face-to-face interaction. Should there be a need to identify a person wearing a mask against a government-issued photo identification, the mask could be removed if physical distancing measures are met. Appropriate signage should be deployed that clearly inform about subsequent steps of the process. 

         Possible solutions include:

    • Direct passengers to use automatic boarding pass scanners at access points while maintaining appropriate physical distance.
    • Using mobile boarding pass scanners operated by the security staff.
    • Conducting a visual inspection of the boarding pass and relevant identification documentation, arequired by standard operating procedures.
  •  Automated gates and mobile scanners’ reader surface should be disinfected with the same frequency as for any other high-touch surface.
  • Passenger preparation officers should be deployed to ensure passengers are prepared for the divestment requirements. Screeners should reinforce processes with passengers accessing divesting areas, such that they properly divest and are less likely to cause a false alarm (to minimize the use of manual searches).
  • Routine enhanced cleaning and disinfecting should be conducted, if required, of frequently touched/exposed surfaces and security screening equipment, including trays at the security checkpoint and baggage areas.

Passenger Screening

  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizer should be distributed to staff for the cleaning and disinfection of their hands, and screening staff should wear gloves.
  • Screeners should change gloves after each manual search.
  • Employees should be advised to wash their hands after removing gloves.
  • Appropriate signage and information to passengers should be clearly displayed regarding newly implemented health requirements, as well as modified screening processes. Signage should highlight the need for passenger cooperation throughout the screening process.
  • Whenever screening checkpoints are processing a high number of passengers, staff and crew screening should be performed in dedicated checkpoints and separately from passengers (as an additional preventive health measure), where possible.
  • Where possible, alarm resolution should be conducted in a dedicated area separated from the flow of passengers. This methodology mitigates the risk of queue build up and maintains passenger throughput, but may require the positioning of additional personnel.
  • For WTMD alarm resolution, prioritize the use of hand held metal detectors to identify the cause of alarm followed by a targeted manual search  where the alarm is.
  • The use of explosive trace detection equipment (ETD) or explosive detection dogs (EDD) should not be limited to alarm resolution. Random use of such explosive detection should be encouraged and leveraged where possible.
  • In order to resolve any alarms or concerns identified by screeners, the use of ETD or EDD should be considered in lieu of manual searches, where appropriate and subject to the nature of the screener’s concerns.
  • If the standard procedure allows for the reuse of ETD swabs, consideration should be given to discontinuing this practice to limit the possibility of spreading COVID-19. NOTE: research is being conducted to determine whether or not the high temperature used by ETD may be sufficient to kill a virus enabling swabs to be used multiple times. The appropriate authority for Security should confirm with the relevant health authority.
  • If there is a need to conduct a manual search, screeners should adapt their methodology to avoid being face-to-face with passengers or other persons being screened.
  • The use of a face mask is recommended for staff required to interact with passengers in close proximity.
  • Larger quantities of health-related liquids, aerosols and gels (LAGs) than prescribed by applicable regulations, such as alcohol-based hand disinfectants, could be accepted if the appropriate authority for aviation security permits.    

Means for uniform implementation

  • Work with the regulator to consider alternatives to manual searches when conducting random searches. Such alternatives should only be implemented with the approval of the appropriate authority and based on a risk assessment.
  • Work with relevant health authorities to ensure cleanliness and disinfection protocols are developed and implemented for items with a high likelihood of cross contamination (e.g. trays and divestment area).
  • Use the Airport COVID-19 Cleaning / Disinfection Control Sheet (PHC Form 3) or a similar one where appropriate.

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