WASHINGTON, DC – A just-announced development by the US Department of Homeland Security will go into effect tomorrow to help further curb the spread of the Ebola virus to the United States.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has announced that all passengers arriving in the U.S. whose travel originates in Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea will be required to fly into one of the five airports that have implemented enhanced screening measures. Those airports are New York’s JFK, Newark, Washington Dulles, Atlanta and Chicago O’Hare. Previous to today’s announcement, it was not a government requirement for all passengers originating in the Ebola-affected West African nations to enter the U.S. through one of these five gateway airports.
Statement by Secretary Johnson on travel restrictions and protective measures to prevent the spread of Ebola to the United States:
“Today, as part of the Department of Homeland Security’s ongoing response to prevent the spread of Ebola to the United States, we are announcing travel restrictions in the form of additional screening and protective measures at our ports of entry for travelers from the three West African Ebola-affected countries. These new measures will go into effect tomorrow.
Last week, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, DHS implemented enhanced screening measures at five airports around the country – New York’s JFK, Newark, Dulles, Atlanta and Chicago. Passengers flying into one of these airports from flights originating in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea are subject to secondary screening and added protocols, including having their temperature taken, before they can be admitted into the United States. These airports account for about 94 percent of travelers flying to the United States from these countries. At present there are no direct, non-stop commercial flights from Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea to any airport in the United States.
Today, I am announcing that all passengers arriving in the United States whose travel originates in Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea will be required to fly into one of the five airports that have the enhanced screening and additional resources in place. We are working closely with the airlines to implement these restrictions with minimal travel disruption. If not already handled by the airlines, the few impacted travelers should contact the airlines for rebooking, as needed.
We currently have in place measures to identify and screen anyone at all land, sea and air ports of entry into the United States who we have reason to believe has been present in Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea in the preceding 21 days.
Yesterday I had a conference call with our CBP officers at the five enhanced screening airports. I was impressed by their professionalism, and their training and preparation for the enhanced screening. I reminded our CBP officers to be vigilant in their efforts, and encouraged them to set a calm example for an American public nervous about Ebola. I thanked these men and women for their service.
We are continually evaluating whether additional restrictions or added screening and precautionary measures are necessary to protect the American people and will act accordingly.”