The TSA will now require that its employees wear facial protection while at screening checkpoints, a measure that it said would be implemented over the next few days.
Agency administrator David Pekroske said that the use of coverings was being implemented because social distancing cannot always be maintained during the screening process. The TSA said it was "considering further changes to its screening system to further minimize the risk and to limit physical interactions in the security checkpoint."
Passengers are not required, merely encouraged, to wear facial protection, although many airlines are mandating the use of masks by passengers. Member airlines of Airlines for America, for example, now require passengers to wear a cloth face covering over their nose and mouth during check-in and boarding, while on the aircraft and while deplaning.
The TSA said that at security checkpoints, passengers may be asked to lower their facial covering for identity verification or if the masks set off alarms on the screening equipment.
Airlines for America said that while it "applauded" the TSA's decision, it also encouraged the TSA and U.S. airports to require facial protection for all travelers.