Photo of handmade Battenberg Lace Face Mask* courtesy Maureen Hoffmann

On Saturday, May 9, 2020, the Port of Seattle announced that it will require all passengers, visitors, and workers, including Port employees, to wear cloth face coverings in the public areas of Sea-Tac Airport, starting on Monday, May 18.

As we previously reported, the first known case of a carrier of the novel coronavirus in the U.S. passed through the airport from China on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020.

And now – some four months later – the airport will finally begin requiring the wearing of face masks.

The new requirement will not apply to certain groups, such as those who cannot medically tolerate facial coverings, as well as very young children. The Port will formally refine its policy in the coming days.

The Port did not explain how its new rule will be enforced.

“Those are details we’ll be delineating this week before the policy goes into place on Friday,” SEA Airport Media Officer Perry Cooper told South King Media. “More discussion will occur during the Commission meeting on Tuesday.”

Cooper added that they’re expecting most people will just need the informational reminder.

“As for travelers it’s required to go on a plane by the airlines and they won’t board travelers without. Our goal is to be as consistent as possible throughout the terminal.”

Seven TSA employees who worked at Sea-Tac Airport have tested positive for COVID-10. Nationwide, 516 TSA workers have tested positive for the virus, and five have died.

“Airport workers keep our region’s supply chain moving and support safe essential travel,” said Port of Seattle Executive Director Steve Metruck. “I am deeply grateful for the dedication they bring to their work. Many Port employees and partners and members of the public already wear cloth face coverings. This policy makes clear our commitment to public health, safety, and well-being.”

Here’s more from the Port:

The safety and security of employees and passengers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is the top priority for the Port and its partners. As part of its response to the global coronavirus pandemic, the Port began providing cloth face coverings to staff working in public facing roles on April 17 and encouraged employees to follow the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance to wear cloth face coverings in situations where it is difficult to maintain physical distancing.

Many partners across Port facilities already recommend or require face coverings for employees and passengers as an added safety measure – this includes airlines, retail and dining tenants, and government agencies including Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and CDC, and Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

On Tuesday, May 12, Port Commissioners will be briefed on the work underway to design and implement additional protocols at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to protect our community, airport passengers, tenants and employees as we prepare for future phases in our state and nation’s re-opening.

* Battenburg lace was used in the 1800s, and Maureen imagines that someone was using it in 1918 during that flu pandemic, “and here I am working with it 100 years later in this pandemic.”