Airport Module - Security Screening

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In response to the continuing pandemic, 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.

Security screening staff should be exempt from carrying out health and safety related screening to ensure they remain focused on security screening and related processes.

Considerations

Checkpoint access procedures

  • Appropriate procedures should be implemented in coordination with relevant government departments in order to respond to any passengers showing signs of illness.
  • Hand sanitizers and disinfection products should be provided 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 accesses and layouts should be considered with the objective of reducing crowds and queues, to the extent possible, and maintaining physical distance while maintaining desirable throughput. This should include both divestment areas and those areas where passengers retrieve their screened cabin baggage.
  • Floor-markings, tensile barriers, or other suitable means should be established within the queueing area to help secure the proper distancing recommended by the appropriate authorities.
  • 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 face covering or medical mask against a government-issued photo identification, the face covering or medical mask could be removed temporarily if physical distancing measures are met. Appropriate signage should be deployed that clearly informs about subsequent steps of the process.
    Possible solutions include:
    • Directing 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, as needed by standard operating procedures.
  • Automated gates and mobile scanners’ reader surfaces 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 needs. 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).
  • Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting should be routinely conducted 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.
  • Screeners should wear gloves and face coverings or medical masks when conducting manual searches on passengers. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers should be applied to the gloves between each passenger screened. Gloves should be changed when they are obviously soiled or torn.
  • 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.
  • Appropriate alarm resolution arrangements should be put in place to mitigate the risk of queue build up and to maintain passenger throughput.  These might include alarm resolution in a dedicated area separated from the flow of passengers which may need the positioning of additional security 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 (ETD) equipment or explosives detection dogs (EDDs) should not be limited to alarm resolution. Random use of such explosive detection should be encouraged and leveraged where possible.
  • Should there be a concern or an alarm that cannot be cleared solely by the primary screening equipment used, it should undergo a secondary screening using, in order of availability and subject to the nature of the screeners concern regarding the threat: EDD, ETD or manual search.
  • 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.- The standard procedure may continue if, for example, it could be determined that the high temperature generated by the specific ETD in use will destroy the virus and if the process for handling and storage of swabs eliminates the possibility of contamination.

  • f there is a need to conduct a manual search, screeners should adapt their methodology, if possible, to avoid being face-to-face with passengers or other persons being screened.
  • Staff needed to interact with passengers in close proximity should use a face covering or medical mask.
  • Larger quantities of health-related liquids, aerosols and gels (LAGs) than prescribed by applicable security regulations, such as alcohol-based hand disinfectants, could be accepted if permitted by the appropriate authorities for aviation security and safety, taking into account the related regulations.  

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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