Air travelers from overseas required to self-quarantine

Fri, 03/20/2020 - 9:30am

A newly enacted emergency declaration approved by the Town Council is designed, primarily, to restrict and contain unnecessary travel from the mainland in order to reduce the possibility of COVID-19 spreading to Block Island. With travelers coming to the island not only on the ferry, but by plane through the Block Island State Airport, The Block Island Times asked the spokesperson for the Rhode Island Airport Corporation how air traffic is being monitored during these extraordinary times.

We sent the following series of questions to RIAC spokesperson John Goodman via email, who supplied the following answers:

Q: Can you let us know what kind of monitoring is being done at the regional airports? How it is being monitored and by whom?

A: At this time neither the Centers for Disease Control nor the R.I. Department of Health is requiring health or travel history screenings of any domestic passengers in Rhode Island, including those arriving or departing from T.F. Green or Rhode Island’s General Aviation Airports. Notifications alerting travelers to the Governor’s Executive Order requiring those returning from overseas to self-quarantine for 14 days have been posted at T.F. Green and other General Aviation terminals throughout the state.

Q: Are there new guidelines in writing from RIAC for cleaning and disinfecting the small planes that service the Block Island Airport and the others?

A: RIAC does not have jurisdiction over the policies of commercial airlines regarding their own cleaning protocol, however most individual airlines are keeping passengers informed regarding their own enhanced cleaning procedures for their aircraft.  RIAC has implemented enhanced cleaning and sanitizing of all “high touch” points in all our airport terminals to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Q: What kind of monitoring, if any, can be done for private plane traffic at the general aviation airports?

A: Domestic flight plans are monitored by the Federal Aviation Administration. Any international charter flights arriving at any airport would be subject to screening by Customs and Border Patrol but it is unlikely that Block Island State Airport would be hosting any such arrivals.

Q: Does a small community such as Block Island have any leeway in terms of self-monitoring as passengers disembark from non-private aircraft?

A: Only the Federal Aviation Administration has the ability to limit domestic air travel.

Q: Has there been any discussion, even preliminarily, about suspending all non-lifeline air traffic at the general aviation airports?

A: The FAA has not announced any preliminary plans to suspend domestic travel.