The United States is limiting the airports passengers can arrive at after being in Iran, which has a growing coronavirus outbreak. This is the first time the procedure has been extended to another country after first being implemented for passengers who had been in mainland China.
The protocol applies to passengers who can still travel between the US and Iran after President Trump’s February 29 order that prohibited visitors from entering the US if they had been in Iran in the last 14 days, with exceptions made for individuals including those who are permanent US residents or the spouse of a US citizen or permanent resident.
While Korea has a larger confirmed number of coronavirus cases than Iran, and there are growing cases in Italy, which has stronger links to the US, President Trump singled out Iran’s data potentially being unreliable.
“Iran is not a trustworthy state actor,” Trump’s proclamation said. “The United States Government is therefore unable to rely on official information disseminated by Iran, undermining the effective evaluation and monitoring of travelers continuing to arrive from that country.” Iran’s 388 confirmed cases on February 28 increased to 978 by March 2. Iran’s reported 54 deaths have brought concerns the actual number of cases is significantly higher than the reported number.
Passengers who have been in Iran and are eligible to enter the US must do so through one of 11 airports that also handle passengers who have been in mainland China. The airports are:
· John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), New York;
· Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), New Jersey;
· Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD), Virginia;
· Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Georgia;
· Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), Illinois;
· Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW), Michigan
· Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), Texas;
West Coast and Hawaii
· San Francisco International Airport (SFO), California;
· Los Angeles International Airport, (LAX), California;
· Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), Washington; and
· Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL), Hawaii.
These “enhanced arrival protocols,” as the Department of Homeland Security calls them, “are part of a layered approach used with other public health measures already in place to detect arriving travelers who are exhibiting overt signs of illness.” The 11 airports are “where enhanced public health services and protocols have been implemented.”
Travel options out of Iran have become limited. The Lufthansa Group suspended Iran flights after Iran accidentally shot down Ukraine International Airlines flight 752. The UAE has continued to suspend flights with Iran, which impacts Emirates and Etihad’s one-stop options between Iran and the US. Qatar continues to fly to Iran, enabling bookings between Iran and the US. But some of Qatar’s US airports – Boston, Houston, Miami and Philadelphia – are not approved to receive passengers who have been in Iran.
The US protocol became effective for flights that departed for the US on or after 5pm eastern time on March 2.
Arrivals board in an airport