Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay airport announces new, enhanced COVID19 protocols

The Thunder Bay International Airports Authority (TBIAA) announced Tuesday it is taking additional measures to combat the spread of COVID-19, including reminders about the importance of observing two metres of social distancing at all times.

Free parking in short-term lot to pick up, drop-off passengers, people asked not to enter terminal building

Thunder Bay International Airport CEO Ed Schmidtke says in 2017, they will increase digital and social media south of the border to attract more U.S. based travellers. (File photo)

The Thunder Bay International Airports Authority (TBIAA) announced Tuesday it is taking additional measures to combat the spread of COVID-19, including reminders about the importance of observing two metres of social distancing at all times.

People dropping off or picking up friends and family can park for free in the short-term lot, with airport officials asking people to remain in their cars and "refrain from entering the Terminal building unless absolutely essential or in case of an emergency".

Officials also stated that "enhanced cleaning and sanitation protocols are strictly in effect throughout the airport including the terminal building, luggage pick up and drop-off areas, security facilities, public washrooms, departure and arrival lounges. Some services, such as escalators are being suspended to reduce the number of possible transfer points and to intensify cleaning in areas remaining open."

As well, food outlets, with the exception of vending machines, have been closed in accordance with government guidelines.

Kathy Kortes-Miller, who was at the airport Sunday to pick up her teenage son who had been on a student exchange in Europe, said she is pleased to learn of the additional measures.

"I think the free parking is a great first step," she noted early Tuesday before the TBIAA released its full list of new protocols.

Airport 'working tirelessly' for safety

Kortes-Miller had been worried by what she saw at the airport on the weekend and expressed her concerns in a letter she shared with officials at the city, the health unit, the airport and on Facebook.

"What I saw was business as usual. Yes it was a bit more quiet because there isn't the same number of flights coming in and out, but people were not physically distancing. People were touching things. I was not greeted with directions on how to be safe and monitor the safety of other people."

Kortes-Miller said she even refrained from hugging her son, who is now in self-isolation at their home, adding they are disinfecting all surfaces he may touch there.

The TBIAA stated Tuesday that employees are required to follow strict personal hygiene protocols including regular handwashing, regular cleaning of work spaces, wearing PPE where necessary and if they feel sick to stay home and self-isolate.

The authority stated it "is working tirelessly to help keep our passengers and colleagues safe. We remain committed to adjusting our health & safety procedures as required in the coming days and weeks. Our collective efforts will help to slow the introduction and spread of COVID-19 in Thunder Bay."

The airport is still operational but officials said passenger volumes are at 10 per cent of normal levels.

The Canadian government has issued an advisory to avoid all non-essential travel until further notice, as part of the effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.