Oakland International Airport easing travel worries with new health, safety guidelines

Oakland International Airport officials announced new safety measures and protocols they are implementing for when travelers return in force.

"We've started placing 6-foot social distancing markers on the ground. Our plexiglass shields are being put up at the ticketing counters and places where passengers will have to interface," says spokesperson for the airport, Keonnis Taylor. 

Some of the plexiglass shields are already up. So are 50 hand sanitizer dispensers placed throughout the terminals. The airport is also requiring that all travelers wear face masks. 

There will also be adjusted gate, seating, and staffing plans to help with social distancing.

"Airplanes and airports were not designed for social distancing, quite the opposite. The math until now has been about how many people you can pack into a space," says airline industry analyst Seth Kaplan.

Now airports are figuring out how to make these new numbers work. And as airline analysts point out, they're doing it without any federal directive.

"If you're an airport, do you want to make big decisions, and perhaps big investments before you know if there's going to be some sort of uniform standard going forward. On the other hand, you have to do something because right now people are scared," says Kaplan.

At Oakland International, they're hoping these changes will reassure people. They're temporarily suspending taxi stands and employee shuttle buses. They're also permanently adding practices, like extra deep cleaning.

"We're really excited to welcome passengers back to the terminals. We're working long hours and very intently on making sure that we are the cleanest and most safe airport," says Taylor.

The airport created something called the "Resiliency Task Force" because they know the rules will evolve over time. They're also working on education and enforcement.