UPDATED: What travelers need to know about coronavirus prevention at Ontario International Airport
Airport officials urge travelers to follow CDC guidance and take reasonable precautions to avoid getting sick or spreading to others
Q: I am concerned by the spread of coronavirus around the world. Should I cancel my upcoming air travel?
A: Ontario International Airport is actively monitoring information and developments regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact on air travel. For the latest health-related information, we are looking to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (as well as our state and county public health officials) for guidance, and we encourage you to do the same. You can access up to date information from the CDC here.
To date, the Federal Government has restricted air travel to the U.S. from Europe, Iran, South Korea and China (not including Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan) with exemptions for U.S. citizens and permanent residents. The CDC’s travel advisory is available here.
Q: Have U.S. airports imposed flight restrictions to particular destinations?
A: U.S. airports do not have the authority to take such actions. The federal government, however, has restricted travel from China, South Korea, Iran and, most recently, Europe. Updated travel advisories are accessible on the CDC website here.
Air carriers are also adjusting their schedules based on declining market demand, so travelers should stay in close touch with their airlines if they are planning to travel in the near future.
Q: Has concern about the coronavirus impacted Ontario Airport’s operations?
A: While passenger volumes on flights to and from Taipei, Taiwan, on China Airlines have been understandably reduced, there has been no impact on airport operations overall. In fact, Ontario, which is the fastest growing airport in the United States, saw passenger volume increase more than 15% in the first two months of the year. However, we do anticipate volumes to be significantly lower in March as the travel industry reels from restrictions on international air travel and reduced market demand for domestic travel. Aviation industry analysts predict world air traffic will decline this year for the first time since 2009.
Q: Can I get food and drinks at Ontario?
A: Concessions remain open at ONT with dine-in as well as grab-and-go service, though hours of operation may be adjusted in accordance with any changes in commercial flight schedules in each of our passenger terminals. It is also worth noting that seating area capacity in our restaurants has been reduced to create six feet of space between tables.
Q: Should I wear a face mask to protect myself while traveling through Ontario?
A: Our public health partners are not recommending that travelers wear face masks, though travelers may do so if they feel more comfortable. It is important, however, that travelers maintain good personal hygiene throughout their travel. Wash hands regularly with soap and water, keep hands away from your face and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer as needed. Importantly, you should avoid coughing or sneezing into your hands and use your elbows instead. And it is always is a good idea to travel with disinfectant wipes to clean surfaces such as armrests and seat-back trays aboard commercial aircraft.
Q: Is Ontario Airport doing anything special to prevent coronavirus infections among passengers?
A: Our senior leadership is actively monitoring developments regarding coronavirus infections and receiving regular updates from public health authorities, particularly the CDC, which is the clearinghouse for information regarding the Federal Government’s prevention, detection and treatment initiatives.
Q: Have any changes been made to Ontario operations that will protect air travelers?
A: We regularly review our policies, procedures and practices in order to provide a first-rate, stress-free customer experience. Last year, we incorporated new passenger screening trays treated with powerful antimicrobial technology to inhibit the growth of bacteria on the surface of the bins used by travelers at TSA checkpoints in our terminals. Ontario was the first U.S. airport to receive the new trays from SecurityPoint Media in partnership with Microban International. More recently, we increased the frequency and intensity of efforts to disinfect washrooms and other public areas with cleaning agents intended to kill germs while also adding to the number of stations where passengers and employees can access free hand sanitizer.
Q: Is Ontario International Airport equipped to handle an arriving flight with multiple passengers aboard who might be showing signs of coronavirus infection?
A: It is worth noting that Ontario was preparing to receive one of the earliest evacuation flights of U.S. citizens from China before U.S. authorities made the decision to redirect those flights to military installations. We are confident that because of our training and preparation, we could effectively receive passengers who might be infected with coronavirus by working in close cooperation and coordination with our public health partners and first responders.
Q: Is Ontario Airport screening incoming passengers for the coronavirus?
A: Because ONT’s China Airlines flight serves Taiwan rather than mainland China, no screening of incoming passengers is currently being conducted. However, news media reports suggest there are ongoing conversations at the CDC about expanding airport health screenings due to the rapid spread of the infection in other countries. As with flight restrictions, airports do not have the legal authority to order or conduct screenings on their own.
Q: Where can I get the latest information on coronavirus before I travel?