WASHINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) — In response to the evolving threat of the coronavirus, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will begin enforcing restrictions for all passenger flights to the United States carrying individuals who have recently traveled from China.
In a statement released Sunday, DHS said the restrictions will begin for flights commencing after 5 p.m. EST on Feb. 2 and will direct the arrival of U.S. citizens who have traveled to and from China within 14 days to one of seven designated airports:
• John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), New York
• Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), Illinois
• San Francisco International Airport (SFO), California
• Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), Washington
• Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL), Hawaii
• Los Angeles International Airport, (LAX), California
• Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Georgia
The U.S. Government has enhanced public health resources at these locations in order to implement enhanced screening procedures and to “protect the American people,” the statement said.
“Additionally, U.S. citizens who have been in Hubei province within 14 days of their return will be subject to up to 14 days of mandatory quarantine to ensure they are provided proper medical care and health screening. U.S. citizens who have been in other areas of mainland China within 14 days of their return will undergo proactive entry health screening and up to 14 days of self-quarantine with health monitoring to ensure they have not contracted the virus and do not pose a public health risk. Generally, foreign nationals (other than immediate family of U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and flight crew) who have traveled in China within 14 days of their arrival, will be denied entry into the United States.”
DHS Acting Secretary Chad F. Wolf. said while the overall risk to the public remains low, funneling all flights with passengers who have recently been in China is “the most important and prudent step we can take at this time to decrease the strain on public health officials screening incoming travelers.”
“These steps will also expedite the processing of U.S. citizens returning from China, and ensure resources are focused on the health and safety of the American people,” Wolf said. “We realize this could provide added stress and prolong travel times for some individuals, however public health and security experts agree these measures are necessary to contain the virus and protect the American people. To minimize disruptions, CBP and air carriers are working to identify qualifying passengers before their scheduled flights. Once back in the U.S., it’s imperative that individuals honor self-quarantine directives to help protect the American public.”
He added that the public can be assured that DHS and its agencies are taking action to analyze the threat, minimize risk and slow the spread of the virus.