February 22, 2021
COVID-19 and travel at SEA Airport
The international arrivals process for passengers entering the United States from certain countries has been adjusted multiple times since the first global cases of coronavirus were discovered.
The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), determines the immigration and customs protocols and facilitates the immigration and customs process.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHS), monitors for infectious disease at airports and other points of international travel.
Federal agencies implement the same international arrival process requirements at every U.S. airport receiving passengers from high-risk countries. CDC and CBP has notified us that the screening protocols might occur in a different order depending upon the facilities and layout of the international terminal or terminals. Protocols also change frequently and may vary day to day.
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) has not experienced the long wait times at other airports where passengers complete the questionnaire within the international facility. According to the CDC, there can be minor variations in the screening process at every airport, but all passengers are subject to this three-step screening process.
The process at SEA is more efficient and different because of the location of the Step 2 screening:
CBP officers use a combination of traveler history records, officer questioning and observation, and self-declarations to identify individuals requiring enhanced health screening
At SEA, this step takes place earlier in the process than at other airports to prevent the lineups that other airports have experienced.
CDC officers monitor passengers as they come into international arrivals, watching for physical symptoms of the disease like coughing, runny nose, and others. Not every passenger receives a physical screening. If passengers do not report or demonstrate any symptoms of coronavirus, they will not be screened.
We appreciate the partnership of these agencies, who constantly adjust their procedures to address emerging threats. We have offered any resources we can to enable them to meet their mission and will continue to support their effort to stop the spread of infectious disease.
February 22, 2021
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