MSP airport stepping up safety measures, encouraging passengers to wear masks

People walk in a glass walkway.
People wear masks as they walk the skyway from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to the parking garages in March. Airport officials on Thursday announced new safety measures to make air travel as safe as possible amid the pandemic.
Evan Frost | MPR News file

The Metropolitan Airports Commission rolled out what it's calling a "robust" health safety program at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport facilities on Thursday.

The program, called the "Travel Confidently” plan, includes high-tech sanitizing procedures and numerous hand-sanitizing stations along with signage encouraging mask-wearing and social distancing.

Commission CEO Brian Ryks said the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is ready for an expected uptick in air travel.

"We are taking the appropriate steps, to ensure that travelers can be safe and confident that our facility is clean as they travel through it,” he said during a press conference announcing the measures Thursday morning.

Ben Humphrey, vice president of Delta Airlines’ airport operations in Minneapolis, joined the airport officials Thursday, saying passengers can count on clean kiosks and airplanes with many open seats.

"We have shields in our check in areas and also in our gate areas. When you get to the gate, we have hand washing stations at every gate. We have social distancing markers on the floor in the jet way and the on the airplane itself,” Humphrey said. “We're only loading to 60 percent capacity which essentially means that you have a center seat open unless you desire to travel with your family."

Air traffic at the Twin Cities airport has sharply declined amid the pandemic. Airport officials say they want systemwide pandemic standards from the federal government to avoid a patchwork of local policies.

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