Mineta San Jose joins other Bay Area airports in mask requirements

Mineta San Jose International Airport Monday joined SFO and Oakland International Airport in requiring travelers and airport workers to wear masks.

The South Bay airport joins the other two airports, which already had the rule in place based on their mandated facial covering county ordinances.

Monday, an SJC employee reminded travelers without the face coverings about the new rule.

"We have to keep the spread of the virus down. I don't know a better way," said traveler Kathi Brooks.

Scarves, bandanas and homemade masks are all allowed.

Those without a facial covering were handed one.

Children under the age of seven and those with breathing issues are exempt.

"All of our airlines at this point have required some form of face coverings during travel so this way we've aligned our policy with the airlines," said Scott Wintner, Deputy Director of Mineta San Jose International Airport.

Delta, United and jetBlue Monday also started requiring masks for travelers.

One week later, Southwest, Alaska, American and Spirit airlines will follow suit.

"The airline is trying to balance the economics of flying with the social distancing comfort levels of their passengers," said Frannie Edwards, Deputy Director of the National Transportation Security Center at the Mineta Transportation Institute within San Jose State University.

The San Jose airport looks dramatically different these days with so few cars and travelers that some observers call it 'a ghost town.'

Airport officials say travel has dropped 95% from normal.

"Whereas we could usually see between 16,000 and 20,000 travelers a day, we're only seeing between 300 and maybe 1,000 on a really big day," said Wintner.

The airport has seen slightly more travelers recently.

On Friday, May 1, SJC recorded its busiest day since the end of March, topping 1,000 travelers.

Airport officials don't expect a flood, but a slow trickle of travelers back when the stay at home orders are lifted.