Air passengers are being advised to follow new rules when travelling through airports, including scanning their own boarding passes, separating their carry-on food items and assisting security agents at checkpoints.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has rolled out new guidelines at airports across the US, intended to reduce physical contact between agents and passengers as summer season approaches. The new rules follow reports that 590 TSA staff have already tested positive for COVID-19, according to CNBC.

“In the interest of TSA frontline workers and traveler health, TSA is committed to making prudent changes to our screening processes to limit physical contact and increase physical distance as much as possible,” the TSA said in a statement.

Passengers will now have to scan their own boarding pass and remove any prohibited items, or items that trigger alarm sensors, from their luggage themselves at security checkpoints. They must also place smaller items like phones, keys and wallets straight into carry-on bags to "reduce touch-points during the screening process" and separate their carry-on food items into clear plastic bags.

Read more: Which airlines are resuming international flights this summer?

Senior woman and adult son wearing face mask at airport in fear of coronavirus and travel ban and international trips cancellations for disease control and prevention of COVID-19 outbreak pandemic.
Passengers are encouraged to wear face masks ©Getty Images/iStockphoto

"Food items often trigger an alarm during the screening process," the TSA release stated. "Separating the food from the carry-on bag lessens the likelihood that a TSA officer will need to open the carry-on bag and remove the food items for a closer inspection." 

TSA agents are now required to wear face masks and airport passengers are encouraged to do the same.

Meanwhile, the US government is considering introducing extra health and safety measures at airports such as temperature checks and thermal screening to detect the virus in passengers before they board. Acting secretary of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, told the Dallas Morning News the department is exploring new technologies "to see what we can do to provide some layer of security."

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